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University of Twente (2021)

Customary land rights and tenure security of subsistence farmers for food security in northern Ghana

Nara B.B.

Titre : Customary land rights and tenure security of subsistence farmers for food security in northern Ghana

Auteur : Nara B.B.

Etablissement de soutenance : University of Twente

Grade : Doctorat 2021

Résumé partiel
Land rights in Ghana emanate from the customary land tenure system. Secure land rights encourage access to and maintenance of large farm sizes and their productive use among others. This tenure security provides some confidence for farmers to increase farm investments and an assurance that they will benefit from those investments. This consequently increases farm produce thereby promoting food security due to food availability. Meanwhile, external pressure from population growth, urbanisation and general economic development can overwhelm the internal structures of the customary land tenure and service arrangements for safeguarding people’s land rights. These arrangements are usually non-monetary ‘homages’ in the form of gifts or labour, which non-member landholders are required to seasonally render to landowners to acknowledge the landowners’ ownership rights and renew such landholders’ secondary rights and secure the land tenure. Governments’ efforts in the past to promote food security by strengthening land rights and securing land tenure have largely been based on ‘imported’ policies of formalisation, registration or documentation processes. These efforts took little or no consideration of local customary views, practices or land tenure dynamics. As a result, the expected benefits of these efforts were either non-existent or barely minimal, not encouraging thus making them unsuccessful. Therefore, this thesis suggests a more pragmatic approach - to work with local people to co-create (or co-design) a responsible and fit-for-purpose customary land rights/tenure and food security model. This involves local people first assessing their own local land laws and practices. Then, they learn from successful models from external environments and co-create a new model by blending the strengths of both so that it fits their local needs and environment. The first objective of this thesis assessed the changing customary land rights and tenure security inequalities and their implications for food security of subsistence farmers in northwest Ghana. Using the social structure theory, the study was carried out through in-depth interviews of identified categories of smallholder farmers – disabled, women, men and middle-aged and youth. The specific land rights and tenure security of each group were identified and examined. Thereafter, the implications were also examined of the different groups. The outcome was that there are indeed marked inequalities where male landowners possess the strongest land rights with the highest land tenure security. Then, females from the landowning group who are placed higher on the communities’ social structure possess similarly weak land rights and low land tenure security just like their female settler counterparts. Paradoxically, even though male settlers are lower on the social structure, they were found to possess stronger land rights and higher land tenure security than females from the landowning group. Implying that masculinity and femininity determine the nature of people’s land rights and tenure security in the study area more than any other factor. For instance, disability does not significantly affect people’s land rights as much as their sex/gender does. Therefore, there exists more food insecurity challenges in terms of availability and accessibility among all females and male settlers possessing weaker land rights than male landowners whose land rights are stronger. Of course, females from the group benefit marginally for their membership among landowners than their counterparts who are females and at the same time settlers. The study concluded that there is the need to put strategies towards narrowing land rights and tenure security inequality gaps. This will stimulate increased investments from all categories of farmers to acquire, possess and maintain sizeable lands, increase investment on those lands more productively for increased farm produce. This may result in food availability among the people which can stimulate their food accessibility and thereby promoting nutrition and food stability as well.

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Page publiée le 15 décembre 2021