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Opinions of Sunday, 19 April 2009

Columnist: Asamoah, Kofi

Wake Up Ghanaians! Learn From South Africa & Zimbabwe’s ....

.... Land Ownership Dilemma.

Reference: Emmanuel K Dogbevi’s article “South African farmers coming to Ghana” published on ghanaweb.com Saturday April 11,2009.

It is about time Ghanaians thought seriously about land ownership in Ghana. Many Ghanaians may delude themselves into believing that what is happening in South Africa or Zimbabwe cannot happen in Ghana.

If anybody thinks that twenty or fifty years from now, a future Ghana government can just ask the foreign farmers to vacate the lands given to them by current government, they should read in depth about the history of Zimbabwe’s land crisis. It won’t be easy, especially, if they’re white farmers. The whole developed world would come to their aid, and prevent that from happening. Can’t we see what is happening in Zimbabwe?

These foreign farmers, be they South African or Chinese, wouldn’t come as guest farmers, they’d come as settlers. Zimbabwe and South African land ownership problems did not start two or ten years ago. Most of today’s white farmers in Zimbabwe and South Africa had the lands passed on to them by their parents and ancestors, who took the lands from the indigenes, decades ago. Today, Zimbabwe has become a pariah state, for trying to redistribute lands that were taken from the rightful Black Zimbabwean owners. I don’t condone the way Mugabe is going about things, but mind you, a similar situation could happen in Ghana, in the future.

The foreign farmers would come in, take the lands that the government would give to them, and soon start buying up lands from poor farmers and chiefs. They would pass on the farmlands to their children, and their descendents. Future generations of Ghanaians would find themselves in Zimbabwe’s land ownership quandary.

We have situations where hardworking Ghanaian farmers cannot find transportation and markets for their products, and thereby suffer post- harvest losses, leading to suicides. However, some people think that Ghana needs commercial farming to be able to feed the country. I believe that with the necessary infrastructure and incentives, Ghanaians can produce food to feed the nation.

I am yet to hear or read about any country that has developed based on agriculture alone. If anyone thinks that foreign commercial farmers are coming to produce agricultural products to feed and export to develop Ghana, he/she should read about Honduras, Nicaragua, and other Central American and Caribbean countries.

Foreign commercial farmers haven’t brought these countries economic development. They’ve rather brought them foreign military interventions and political instability. For instance, US governments have often intervened militarily, to protect the interest of American commercial farmers in foreign countries, to the extent of engineering regime changes, to put pro- American big business regimes in power. Already, successive Ghana governments have given arable lands to mining companies who have destroyed farms to make way for mining, and paid farmers a pittance, thereby impoverishing them. Farmlands are also being used up for building houses, while our population keeps growing. Is anyone thinking about land shortage in Ghana and its ramifications in the very near future?

Ghana needs investments in other sectors, such as, food processing, infrastructure, assembling, manufacturing plants, ICT and the like. Commercial farming and mining will keep Ghana perpetually underdeveloped, and bring crises to bedevil posterity.

Wake up people of Ghana!!! Let’s not be shortsighted and invite crises for future generations, let’s rather think about how our actions or inactions will affect them.

Author: Kofi Asamoah.