Illegal land grab is a threat to food security, says LRMC

The Land Resources Management Centre (LRMC), a non-governmental organisation, is very worried that the nation stands the risk of food insecurity as farmlands are gradually taken over by foreign investors.

According to the NGO, most farmlands in some parts of the country are being taken over by foreign investors without the necessary legal process which invariably posed as food insecurity for the nation in the near future.

Mr. Mark Kakrabah Ampeh, Executive Director of LRMC, disclosed this at a workshop organised by the NGO in Accra yesterday.

The issue of large-scaleland acquisitions, mainly in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and South East Asia, known as “Land Grabbing,” has become a global phenomenon.

Some call it “new colonialism, land grab” and “land rush,” while others term it as investments on land, agri-business, foreign direct investment and so on.

However, speaking at the workshop on the theme: “Pathways to Accountability in the Global Land Rush : Lesson from West Africa,”  Mr. Ampeh said, a research conducted by the centre revealed that, most investors acquired lands in the country with or without the knowledge of the landowners and in a very non-transparent manner.

In addition, he said, lack of equitable benefit sharing modalities, weak capacity to negotiate better deals from investors on behalf of communities by duty bearers, poor documentation or records of intended transaction and loss of community rights to common resources, including water, forest and economic trees, were identified as most of the challenges faced.

Mr. Ampeh attributed the challenges to the absence of a comprehensive national plan on land uses in the country.

“Currently, there is no proper national  land plan use by the government or any agency of the state, which  I think is one of the very challenges affecting  our  land usage as a  country,” he explained.

The workshop, he noted, is organised as a common platform for all stakeholders in land acquisition in the country to find a lasting and beneficial way of land management in the country.

He observed that, the mismanagement of the land today does not only pose a threat to food security, but has future consequences, as the next generation may not have land to farm, saying, “we may be denying our future generation if we do not take steps to protect and preserve our lands today.”

Mr. Ampeh said, as part of process to protect lands for profitable investment, the LRMC has put up a guideline policy and also formd community land management committees to ensure that farmlands acquired by investors do not affect the people of Ghana in the near future.

Dr. Eric Yeboah, Research Officer of the project, indicated that, land and investment are complex issues, hence the need of support for communities and landowners to enable them to better engage investors on their lands.

According to him, when there is accountability in land investments, community members are able to better position themselves to benefit from gains arising from the investment, and called on duty bearers of lands to invest in productive areas which would benefit the larger community.

Dr. Yeboah, in his research findings, revealed that Daboase in the Brong-Ahafo Region and Yapei in the Northern Region are respectively, investing their community lands in schools, roads, bridges and scholarship and health education.

He noted that, “large land deals can curtail the rights of the collective and investors shouldn’t underestimate this. Water bodies, access ways, sacred areas, economic trees and many others are sensitive issues and communities, duty bearers and investors must agree on what to do beforehand.”

Land-based investments, Dr. Yeboah said, come with inherent risk which could derail investment projects, but emphasized that when properly engaged it could benefit both sides, the community and the investors, and called for long term commitment between investors and communities to change the entrenched culture.

Dasebree Kwebu Ewusi VII, Chief of Abeadze Traditional Area in the Central Region and Vice President of the National House of Chiefs, on his part, said the issue of land acquisition is becoming a big problem and commended the LRMC for the move to create awareness on the danger of misuse of lands in the country.

While urging the organization to extend the education and awareness campaign to regions and communities, Dasebree Ewusi said chiefs, as traditional rulers, have a pivotal role in land management and assured to take the matter to the National House Chiefs for their contribution to find a lasting solution.

 

 

Source: therepublicnewsonline.com /Felix Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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