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Land Grabs and Livelihood Outcomes: Exploring the coping mechanisms adopted by farmers in agrarian communities in Ghana

John Hopeson Anku

University of British Columbia, Canada

Large scale land acquisitions worldwide are a subject matter that evokes controversy. This is especially prominent in Africa where many of these acquisitions has been dubbed land grabs due to its negative impacts on host communities. As such, the burgeoning literature on the phenomenon has attracted scholarly discussions on assessing the impact of these acquisitions on the livelihoods of people in the host communities. Following this literature, this research seeks to examine, how farmers are experiencing and responding to processes of land grabs. In doing so, the study is inspired by DFID’s Sustainable livelihoods framework. In particular, the study seeks to examine the coping mechanisms adopted by individual farmers and communities to mitigate the impact of land grabs regarding livelihood alternatives, ensuring food security, and enhancing economic opportunities. The study will also examine the institutional and regulatory frameworks which either aid or constrain the livelihood outcomes. Methodologically, the research will utilize a mixed method of surveys, focus group discussions and interviews to predict the likely impact and coping mechanisms of smallholders under circumstances where these land acquisitions have been deemed to be largely successful, contested, and failed. The research has implications for the future policy on large-scale land acquisitions, especially in rural agrarian communities.

Accaparement des terres et résultats des moyens de subsistance: Explorer les mécanismes d'adaptation adoptés par les agriculteurs des communautés agraires du Ghana

John Hopeson Anku

Université de la Colombie-Britannique, Canada

Les acquisitions de terres à grande échelle dans le monde sont un sujet qui suscite la controverse. Cela est particulièrement important en Afrique où bon nombre de ces acquisitions ont été surnommées accaparements de terres en raison de ses impacts négatifs sur les communautés d’accueil. À ce titre, la littérature naissante sur le phénomène a attiré des discussions savantes sur l’évaluation de l’impact de ces acquisitions sur les moyens de subsistance des populations des communautés d’accueil. À la suite de cette littérature, cette recherche cherche à examiner comment les agriculteurs vivent et réagissent aux processus d’accaparement des terres. Ce faisant, l’étude s’inspire du cadre des moyens d’existence durables du DFID. En particulier, l’étude cherche à examiner les mécanismes d’adaptation adoptés par les agriculteurs et les communautés pour atténuer l’impact de l’accaparement des terres sur les alternatives de subsistance, assurer la sécurité alimentaire et améliorer les opportunités économiques. L’étude examinera également les cadres institutionnels et réglementaires qui aident ou limitent les résultats des moyens d’existence. Méthodologiquement, la recherche utilisera une méthode mixte d’enquêtes, de discussions de groupe et d’entretiens pour prédire l’impact probable et les mécanismes d’adaptation des petits exploitants dans des circonstances où ces acquisitions de terres ont été jugées largement réussies, contestées et échouées. La recherche a des implications pour la future politique sur les acquisitions de terres à grande échelle, en particulier dans les communautés agraires rurales.

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4 Responses

  1. John, I can imagine that the classification of “success” or “failure” of a project is not obvious. A project that is ongoing, which has not been shut down by protests, does not necessarily have positive outcomes. Perhaps the expected impact on others might be minimal, and therefore the project was not contested. Can you tell a bit more of the kind of projects that happen in those 3 cases and what the protests are about. And good luck with the fieldwork in this COVID-19 world.

    1. Thank you Jansen for the feedback.

      The classification of the projects was informed by the current state of the acquisitions. The project in Yendi (Northern Ghana-Biofuel) is classified as failed because post the land deal, the project has been abandoned. For the Twifo project (Central region-Oil palm), it is deemed a successful acquisition because the project is continuous and have community acceptance. The project in Lolito, (Volta region-rice/bio fuel) is classified a contested acquisition because currently, there are cases in court against the project and there has been open demonstrations against the project.

  2. Thank you, John.
    You may also want to look at the work that Ruth Hall (PLAAS, Western Cape University) and her team have conducted. Ghana was one of their case study countries. Tobias also presents his findings on Morroco and Ghana. I hope you will get an opportunity to go through some of the videos which could help as you are still at the beginning of your research. IWMI also conducted studies with Ghana as one of the case study countries on Large Scale Land (Water) Investments/Land grabbing.

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