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An exploratory survey of small-scale off-farm economic activities and sustainable household livelihoods in the Bongo District of Ghana

Faculty of Integrated Development Studies, University for Development Studies
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  • Agricultural Science
  • Economics


Small scale off-farm economic activities are believed to be a potential frontier for generating additional livelihoods support to sustain the farm household in rural Ghana. Despite this general belief, very little has been done to provide adequate information that might be utilized by policy makers and practitioners for possible intervention. The purpose of this exploratory survey is to examine the potential of small scale off-farm economic activities in sustaining household livelihoods, using three communities in Bongo District in the Upper East Region of Ghana as a case study. The data for this study is derived from a larger survey, covering a wide range of issues including small scale off- farm economic activities, conducted in the eastern portion of the district – Bongo–Soe, Adaboya and Apatanga communities. The key findings are that, although their operations remain at a low level, small-scale off-farm economic activities contribute between 3.2 and 14.6 per cent to household incomes. The incomes from these operations serve strategic livelihood purposes, especially in sustaining the household during the excruciating lean season, when households habitually run out of all food stock. The incomes earned also serve other useful social and economic functions, such as the payment of bride price, funeral performance, the purchase of agricultural inputs and investment in livestock and human capital. It is therefore recommended that, development agencies like the Non Governmental Organizations, the District Assemblies and financial institutions consider supporting households to improve their skills, expand operations, and improve the product quality since this will enhance the livelihood chances of poor households in a derelict environment. Ghana Journal of Development Studies Vol.1(2) 2004: 27-49

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