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Land distribution and acquisition practices in Ghana's cocoa frontier: The impact of a state-regulated marketing system

Knudsen, Michael Helt, Fold, Niels
Land use policy 2011 v.28 no.2 pp. 378-387
business enterprises, crop production, extended families, farmers, income, land ownership, markets, purchasing, Ghana
Substantial differences in the size of landholdings among cocoa farmers in the Western Region – the last cocoa “frontier” in Ghana – are primarily a result of inheritance practices and the purchase of vast tracts of land by migrants in the initial period of the cocoa boom. Individual accumulation of land over the last decade has mainly taken place via inheritance (among indigenous farmers) without takeovers of land and dispossession of small-scale farmers outside the extended family. Land accumulation among migrant farmers is rare beyond the initial acquisition. Large-scale farmers transfer surplus from their higher volume of cocoa production into investments in non-farm activities and construction of new residential houses—and not in land acquisition based on market transactions. State regulation of the cocoa sector has spurred increased efficiency among private cocoa purchasing companies and thereby reduced the marginalization of farmers with small landholdings by preserving their access to a vital source of income. The unique character of the Ghanaian purchasing system is a major factor behind the relatively stable proportion in the access and control of land for cocoa between extended families.