Cocoa production will be boosted in one of Ghana’s production hubs, Sefwi Wiawso, following the resolution of a dispute in a lease agreement as an integral part of sustainable cocoa land tenure and ownership security.
Tenant cocoa farmers and the land committee of the Sefwi Wiawso Traditional Council have, for the first time, met to build consensus over provisions in a proposed lease agreement.
The cocoa farmers, mostly non-natives, have for years resisted moves by the Council to implement a new land lease agreement without their consent.
The dispute slowed efforts towards cocoa rehabilitation and intensification in the Sefwi area, which contributes the highest production to Ghana’s cocoa industry.
In 2016, the Advocacy for Change Project, implemented by Solidaridad West Africa with funding from the Dutch government, stepped in to find mutually agreed solutions to the recurring standoff.
The intervention for ownership security will enable farmers to invest in long-term sustainable land-use practices that ensure environmental protection and gender mainstreaming.
After almost three years of engaging the tenant farmers and land owners, both parties have now agreed to a roadmap to end the conflict and help increase cocoa productivity in the area.
President of Sefwi Wiawso Tenant Farmers Association Nana Kwadwo Agyei said the initial component in a proposed lease agreement brought to them by the land owners was not satisfactory to the farmers.
“The dispute demotivated farmers to put effort in increasing cocoa production since the security of our farmland were not guaranteed. As a result of this, cocoa production declined in the area.”
The Chairman of the Land Committee of the Sefwi Wiawso Traditional Council, Nana Kwao Asante-Bediatuo II, admitted that the dispute resulted in the decline in cocoa production in the area.
The two parties commended Solidaridad for the intervention.
“We consider today’s roundtable meeting a major achievement given the contestations that confronted us. We appreciate the facilitation by Solidaridad West Africa that has resulted in this outcome,” Nana Kwadwo Agyei said.
“As landowners, we are satisfied with the outcome of the stakeholder engagement so far. The Solidaridad intervention has helped us to move from our entrenched position to one of consensus,” Nana Kwao Asante Bediatuo II noted.
Coordinator of the Advocacy for Change Project Eric Amoako Agyare said the intensive capacity building on land tenure and ownership security has been beneficial.
“Solidaridad West Africa supported both parties with intensive capacity building on legal and governance perspectives on cocoa land tenure and ownership security, and the need for land documentation. This clarity contributed to the parties agreeing to participate in the renegotiation of the land lease agreement.
“Tensions have reduced and stakeholders are now willing to engage and shift positions toward finding lasting solution on land documentation and ownership,” he explained.
The Advocacy for Change project is also expected to contribute to minimizing contestations and promote good relations between landowners and settler farmers.
The goal is to create an enabling environment that drives major climate change and cocoa sustainability interventions in the Sefwi Wiawso area, with the possibility of scaling up to other cocoa farming areas.
It also complements current national efforts to incentivize landowners and cocoa farmers in the Western North Region to rehabilitate cocoa farms.
By Ibrahim Abubakar| 3news.com|Ghana