Elias Hasket Derby once said, “Agriculture has become essential to life; the forest, the lake, and the ocean cannot sustain the increasing family of man; population declines with declining cultivation and nations have ceased to be with the extinction of their agriculture”. Truly Agriculture is the backbone of most developing countries as many pieces of research and articles published indicate. A document posted by H. Plecher on Ghana statistics with regards to GDP shows that about 18.27% was contributed by agriculture which based on the records provided by him, there has been a decline in this contribution. The question arising here is, How is the future of the backbone of Ghana’s economy? Are we better off than before or worse off?
Aldo Leopold once said, “ We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect”. Such huge words I guess, have you ever considered land as a community? How do we regard land? These are questions that run through my mind most times when the subject of land comes in. You may be confused with my twist of the word based on my title but let me make it clear for you here, almost all activities of an agriculturist depend on the land. From cultivation through to processing all have the land component being the key factor. But how is this land used, managed, and catered for?
Let’s take a critical look at Ghana land lease systems, I want to ask you a very key question here, do our government and Chiefs have better allocation and future for agriculture? The world is rapidly moving to a more industrialized system and most make are been converted into infrastructures. A critical look at the Ghana land lease law indicates that land for buildings and infrastructures can last for a period of about 99 years. It is understandable since these structures often take a lot of funds in putting them up but what is worse is, lands for agriculture purposes both commercial and subsistence can last for a period of at most 50 years which may be subjected to renewal. So this is the real issue on ground, most stool lands own by chiefs and kings are leased for agricultural purpose for a duration of 25 years and after these periods the land is mostly sold as building plots or industrial plots.
Why am I so concerned about this issue? I had an opportunity to attend a conference dubbed, “Meet the farmers’ Ghana conference” and during one of the panel discussion, a panelist stated that most developed countries are likely to depend on us the developing countries for food and raw materials since industrialization has lead to losing most of their land for agriculture purposes. My fears are that this same predicament is likely to occur sooner than later here.
Government and chiefs need to restrategized it’s land allocations. Better planning on land utilization need to be put down. Land lease policies and the law needs amendment if we only want the future of agriculture. In my next extract, I would dive more into a land issue in the country. Edward W. Stewart once said, “ Agriculture was the first occupation of man, and as it embraces the whole earth, it is the foundation of all other industries”. The future of industries depends on the future of agriculture so let’s all help save this future together.