Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Ghana Land-Grab Giveaway

Ghana offers land to Punjabi farmers. A delegation from Ghana led by deputy minister for energy and petroleum Benjamin Dagadu offered to settle farmers and to allocate fertile agriculture land on long lease to Punjabi farmers in Ghana.

It is not as if Ghana lacks farmers. Ghana abounds in hardworking and forward-looking farmers who have all these years shouldered the responsibility of producing cash crops for export earnings to boost the national coffers and food crops to feed Ghanaians. They have done all in their power to remain productive despite harsh conditions caused by total neglect by the government, which has forced them to rely on the hoe-and-cutlass method instead of mechanized farming or the slash-and-burn method that promotes shifting cultivation and deforestation. Environmental degradation results, even as food crop production suffers and the government itself encourages the importation of food items such as rice, yam, plantains, fish and many others (including chicken “spare parts”).

Questions also abounds. Where is the land that the government has earmarked for release to farmers from Punjab? Ghana has clear laws on land ownership and a land tenure system that the government’s intended move won’t fit into. Which traditional area in Ghana is the government eyeing for this deal? We know that there are state lands; but is that what the government can do with those lands to create the impression that it is collaborating with farmers from outside to sustain the agricultural sector? How will any agreement on the land-grant (lease) be initiated and concluded to ensure that the beneficiaries are indeed being legally integrated into the Ghanaian system as tenant farmers or owners of land in Ghana? What exactly will be the framework for any transaction of this sort to ensure that the laws of Ghana are not fouled by the government itself, let alone the Punjabi farmers? What will the Punjabi farmers be producing in Ghana that the local Ghanaian farmers cannot? Is it rice, millet, sorghum, soya beans, maize, or what? Cotton? Alfalfa? Aloe vera? What at all is it that the Punjabi farmers can do that our Ghanaian farmers cannot? And is it bringing in these Punjabi farmers that will motivate our local farmers to enter into competitive farming? Who bears the cost of bringing in and equipping these Punjabi farmers?

The problem in Ghana is not about over-abundance of farmland but not knowing how to help farmers use the fertile lands for increased food production.

From here

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