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Inequalities in large scale acquisition of lands a major concern – Minister

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Benito Owusu-Bio

There is the urgent need for changes in the systems and processes of large scale land acquisition for land-based investment in Ghana.

Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, observed that there were power inequalities in the acquisition of land on a large scale for commercial investments, a situation he described as a major concern.

He said the “unequal power relations” between the investors and local communities had often disadvantaged local level actors and custodians of land under most customary ownership and needed attention.

Mr Owusu-Bio was speaking at the launch of the Transformative Land Investment Project (TLI), an initiative spearheaded by SNV Ghana in partnership with four other consortium members to promote responsible land investments in Ghana and other implementation areas.

“Smallholder farmers and women have faced threats of dispossession due to lack of documentation, unclarified land rights or in some cases, lack of information on such acquisitions.

“Such situations have in some cases, resulted in livelihood disengagement and aggravations of rural poverty in the affected communities,” he noted.

Mr Owusu-Bio said the land and natural resources sector had over the years been one of the most targeted sectors of Ghana’s economy when it came to foreign investments.

He said as foreign investments in the land sector increased, the country must not only pay attention to regulations but must also ensure that those investments benefited the host communities.

“It is important to work together with all other stakeholders to ensure that these investments bring not only financial rewards but also we need to give attention to developing our communities and improving livelihoods and food security,” he said.

Mr Anjo van Toorn, SNV’s Country Director for Ghana and Nigeria, said the TLI project would facilitate the development and scaling up of more socially and environmentally impactful land investments that embraced Transformation Land Investment principles.

He said the project formed part of SNV’s commitment towards promoting resilient and sustainable agricultural systems and practices, build inclusion in the agriculture value chain, and ensure food security.

“At the end of the project, we would like to see more investments from the private sector, there will be more climate resilience and the food security of the people will improve,” he said.

Mr James E.K. Dadson, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, urged the project implementers to take into consideration Ghana’s land tenure system and involve all relevant stakeholders to make it successful.

“There is no single owner of land in Ghana.  Therefore, every interest in land must be recognised in order that this project will be successful,” he said.

Source: GNA

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