Dr. Osei Yaw Adutwum, Deputy Minister of Education, has called on district assemblies, chiefs and landowners in the country to consider in zoning and designating lands for educational facilities and agricultural purposes.
According to him, there is the fear that if such steps are not taken the country may lose most of the lands to investors for real estate development and factories at the expense of the country’s future education and agricultural development.
The Deputy Minister and Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe in the Ashanti Region made the call at a workshop organised by Lands Resources Management Centre (LRMC), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Accra on Tuesday, this week.
The rate of urbanisation and other developmental amenities is rapidly at the ascendancy in the country, threatening land availability for the productive activities, such as farming.
Food security plays an important role in the survival of mankind, hence policies and programmes safeguarding food are highly crucial to fight poverty.
Dr. Adutwum told The Republic exclusively at the workshop that land generally, and, more crucially, fertile land has become scarce, particularly for smallholder farmers.
He said, currently farming in the country’s rural areas faces lots of associated problems, as many of the farmlands are gradually being taken away by foreign investors and organizations for activities, such as mining with little or no compensation to venture into farming or alternative livelihoods.
A study conducted by LRCM reveals that fertile farmlands are rapidly declining in Ghana due to pressure from population growth and urbanisation, threatening rural livelihoods and food security.
In addition, gold mining and sand winning are also another source of pressure on land which deeply affects farmers, particularly women in the fisheries aspect of agriculture.
The rapid rate of property development in the urban and peri-urban areas has created considerable demand for sand, stones and other building materials, which, in response, several farm lands are being destroyed in favour of foreign investors.
For that, Dr. Adutwum said there was the need for government and, for that matter, the Lands Commission, in conjunction with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to encourage District Assemblies and communities that owned lands to zone some lands for farming and educational facilities.
He argued that would be the best way to forestall any future problem in terms of unavailability of land to farm or put up infrastructure for education purpose.
The newly-appointed Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Basic Education and other allied institutions, expressed the view that, in advanced countries, lands are preserved even in the urban centers for farming to feed the people, adding that, such policies could be emulated here to save future generation.
He said with the penetration of large-scale land investment for estates and others, the nation may lose out on developmental projects, if landowners and assemblies do not reserve lands for development projects that will create jobs for the people.
Dr. Adutwum bemoaned the illegal acquisition of lands by foreign investors in the country, adding that, if the current system is not checked, government may also not be able to undertake development projects in future.
He told the paper that, though the country is well-positioned to benefit from numerous developmental projects and investments, the problem of land acquisition is deterring government priority investment.
“There is a big problem with land acquisition in the country and people lease out lands without thinking what they will feed on, in other countries, they have farm lands in the cities, this is what we should be thinking of as a nation,” he stated.
The Deputy Minister commended LRMC for the initiative on land management in the country, noting, “we need to begin from somewhere and I think Land Resources Management Centre is taking the right step.”
He noted that, beside the menace of Galamsey being destructive to farm lands which posed a threat to food security, the mismanagement of some farm lands by communities and duty bearers could worsen the situation if we fail as a country to control where farmlands should be reserved.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com / Felix Engsalige Nyaaba