Land owners urged not to sell lands but use it as equity in businesses (Tuesday, May 5, 2015)
Land owners in rural communities have been urged to use their lands as equity in agri-businesses instead of outright sales of lands that only increase poverty in their areas.
“This is to ensure that private business carries along rural development and social inclusion in the development of rural agricultural economies,” a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan said at agricultural investment, gender and land multi-stakeholder consultation workshop in Accra.
According to the deputy minister, instead of using private capital to buy lands, when communities use their land as equity to acquire shares in such companies, they would not only want the companies to stay profitable but it would lead to transforming such communities.
Purpose of workshop
Jointly organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CEGENSA), GIZ and MoFA, the workshop is the meeting of gender experts, famers and policy makers to promote an open exchange of experiences and evidence-based knowledge on the implications of public and private agricultural investments for rural livelihoods and gender relations.
The workshop features presentations and research findings by a range of institutions and networks that document and analyse diverse land-based investments and the related business models, investment partnerships, community impacts and community responses.
The purpose is to critically review existing investment practices as well as relevant policy and institutional set-ups in order to identify good and bad practices, promising strategies, approaches and policy measures that can be promoted and adapted to national contexts to foster inclusive, equitable and socially responsible investment that respect the rights of local communities and promote economic growth within a framework of social and gender equality.
Challenges of women in agriculture
In spite of the enormous contribution women farmers make to agriculture and food production in Ghana, they are still strongly disadvantaged in access to land. Women also struggle with access to wage labor and contract farming opportunities, participation in consultations around land and compensation schemes.
According to MoFA Figures, men hold 3.2 times more of the total farms than women, and 8.1 times more of the medium and large-sized farms of 5 acres or more. Women generally acquire usufruct rights to land through their male relatives. Male smallholders, who tend to be the principal land owners and decision-makers, are more likely to be targeted by private investors.
In that regard, Dr Alhassan said agricultural investments should recognise the importance of female's contribution to agricultural production and address women's weak tenure security, along with other critical structural inequalities in access to key assets.
Women status in farming has not changed much.
As African heads of states have committed to ending hunger and halving poverty on the continent by 2025 through inclusive agricultural growth and transformation and enhancing investment finance, both public and private, to agriculture.
The FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, Dr Lameourdia Thiombiano, stated that the benefits of the investment depended mainly on many factors which included the prevailing agricultural development model, the institutional, policy and regulatory tools in place, the type and degree of inclusiveness of the business models adopted and the extent to which social and gender inequalities were considered and address.
“Despite the progress with international, regional and national frameworks that has been made to date, there has been limited focus on how agricultural investments affected differently women and men from social groups.
The Director of CEGENSA, Dr Akosua Darkwa, observed with concern that although women had been involved in agriculture in Ghana for more than 200 years, their conditions and income from the activity had not changed much.