There are unresolved questions of conflict between multinationals grabbing lands from poor farmers, mostly women for the cultivation of biofuels, particularly Jatropha, and now news from the Gulf region says countries in the region are targeting farmlands in African countries including Ghana for their food security plans. But what is disturbing is the fact that they are covert about the move.
The countries being targeted are Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Angola, Sudan and Ghana.
A story in the Gulf Times sited by ghanabusinessnews.com says a consultant advising governments in the region on the deals has told them if they continued with the plan, they risk tarnishing their reputation, especially as there is no transparency.
The report indicates that Gulf countries depend heavily on food imports and following spikes in basic commodity prices, they have decided to buy land in developing countries to ensure food security in the region.
The consultant, Huma Fakhar was quoted by the publication as saying that, “the media has really managed to put a negative spin on these farmland deals, that’s why we are seeing many Gulf countries being less open about them.”
“I am personally aware of serious talks between Saudi Arabia and Ghana about buying farmland,” she said.
Fakhar is chairperson of the Market @ccess Promotion, an international consultancy advising Gulf states on agricultural issues.
“… Since the deals started getting a bad reputation, the owners of the companies no longer disclose their identity,” she added.
The story of land ownership in Ghana is a bleak one. Land issues have led to violent clashes resulting in deaths, displacements and insecurity.
The country’s courts are inundated with hundreds of unresolved land related cases, some lasting more than 30 years. This new development should therefore be worrying, especially so, when the farmlands would be used to produce food crops solely for the Gulf region.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi