Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Grabbing of Land in Africa and Land Reforms in Ghana

Grabbing of land in Africa and land reforms in Ghana

The global economic crises and food shortage has created the atmosphere for investments in farmlands in developing countries mainly in Africa. The investments in farmlands in Africa are done mainly by Western, Asia and rich Arab nations.

The rush for Africa's arable land raises questions about the investment and the benefits to the indigenes of the continent. Some economists believe the inflow of investment into farmlands in Africa will bring economic prosperity to the continent while other believes it is a self off and the continent will not benefit. Those critics who believe it's not a good idea and amounts to neo colonisation includes the FAO secretary general Jacques Diof (ft.com, 2009 May24). Japan will spearhead a drive at the Group of Eight summit to prevent “farmland grabbing” in developing countries and encourage responsible investing in agriculture.

A recent coupe d'├ętat in Madagascar was sparked by the incumbent president Marc Ravalomanana's willingness to sell about have the arable land of the country to South Koreas Daewoo. A 34-year old opposition leader Andry Rajoelina seized power and cancelled the land deal with South Korea's Daewoo.

Ghana has found oil in the western region and this has generated lots of interest in the area. Recently the chiefs in the area announced a ban on sale of land in the area and advocated for equity share. This is a laudable idea but the chief's alone cannot achieve their objective unless it is backed by the state.

It is about time the country undertake a countrywide land reform in the interest of the people. A responsible body needs to be set up to transparently manage land on behalf of families and chief and in the interest of the people. This reforms should be embedded in the constitution and information made available to any citizen. If such legislation is not put in place to protect the people individual will act in their own interest. For example the proposal of the western chiefs to exchange land for equity may not materialise if not backed by legislation to prevent individual or organisations from corrupting some of the chiefs to sell the lands.

Our continent deserves a fare share of the world's investment and standard of living. What we need is responsible investment as noted by the Japanese. We should be bold to resist all attempts to take advantage of us by irresponsible businesses. The study by the financial times found out that most of the farmland investments on the continent were given out for cheap or free. Even though some of the investors had promised jobs and infrastructure there was no evidence to support its feasibility.

Its is about time we create a favorable environment and fair playing field for both Ghanaians and foreign investors by creating a “win win” situation were the indigenes are not eliminated because they are too poor to channel their course.

Credit: Bishop Lee Tsarkle
Management consultant, UK

Source: Bishop Lee Tsarkle
Story from Modern Ghana News:
Published: Tuesday, June 02, 2009

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