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Biofuels and the hazards of land grabbing: Tenure (in)security and indigenous farmers’ investment decisions in Ghana

Aha, Bismark, Ayitey, Jonathan Z.
Land use policy 2017 v.60 pp. 48-59
Jatropha, biofuels, data collection, energy, farm size, farmers, farming systems, farms, food crops, food security, land rights, plantations, surveys, uncertainty, Asia, Ghana, Latin America
The past decade has witnessed a renewed interest in transnational land deals in the developing land-abundant countries of Sub Sahara Africa (SSA), Asia and Latin America following the convergence of the global financial, food and energy crises in the mid 2000s. In much of SSA, these deals occur on customary lands which are managed by traditional authorities on behalf of and in trust for the entire local community and are thus occupied by indigenous farmers. The traditional authorities have, for diverse reasons, become much interested in alienating large tracts of customary lands to foreign investors for biofuel and food crop plantations. In this paper, we examine the effects of the current mode of communal land acquisition for Jatropha cultivation in Ghana on the security of indigenous farmers’ land rights and their decisions to invest in their farms. Empirical evidence is based on primary data collected from field surveys conducted in two districts in Ghana; Yeji and Ejura in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions respectively. We observed that the increasing appropriation of communal lands for biofuel plantations without consultation, fair and adequate compensation to the indigenous land holders has resulted in uncertainty and tenure insecurity among farmers in affected communities. Consequently, such farmers have become relatively disinterested in farming, cultivating smaller farm sizes and thereby showing low investments in their farms. These findings provide a new perspective for considering the relationship between increasing biofuel cultivation and food security in developing Africa.