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Regional News of Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Source: GNA

Chiefs bemoan scarcity of land for farming

Gyadam (Ash), July 15, GNA - Chiefs of fringe communities along Pra and Anum Rivers in the Asante Akim South District have expressed concern about the unavailability of lands for their people to farm on despite being surrounded by vast forest.

The communities which include Gyadam, Banka, Muronaim, Tokwai and Amantia have since 1907 been restricted from farming in the forest by the then colonial government following protracted war between the people of Akyem and Adansi over the ownership of the forest. As a measure to ensure peace in the area the then government confiscated the forest and debarred the people from cultivating the land until the dispute was resolved.

Nana Ayim Kumnipa, Omanhene of Gyadam Traditional Area and spokesperson of the chiefs said the order, which had not been reviewed remained in force, thereby denying the farming communities adequate land to farm on with the increasing number in population. Addressing a durbar of chiefs and people of the five communities at Gyadam at the weekend, he said with the limited land at their disposal having been used for development purposes over the years, land for farming had become scarce.

Nana Kumnipa said it was against this background that the chiefs of the five communities had come together to bring to the fore the plight of their subjects in an effort to seek a lasting solution to the problem. He said the situation had also denied them their royalties though timber contractors had been given concessions to operate in the forest. He said the communities, as a result, had been deprived of accelerated development, adding that all efforts to ensure their royalties were paid had proved unsuccessful.

Nana Kumnipa added that since 2004 they had been appealing to the Forestry Commission to provide them some lands for farming but that was to no avail.

He urged the District Chief Executive (DCE) and Member of Parliament (MP) to intervene on their behalf. Mr Abdul Karim Boakye-Yiadom, DCE, assured the chiefs that he would ensure that their concerns were addressed and urged them to remain calm. He urged the chiefs to take active part in the development agenda of the Assembly to ensure equitable distribution of projects across the district.

The DCE stated that the Assembly would provide a vehicle for the Banka Health Centre to serve the nearby communities in order to improve health delivery in the area.