Aggrieved farmers, belonging to the Ofadaa Asomdwee Farmers Association in the Awutu Senya District, have appealed to the government and all concerned agencies to come to their aid to ensure their chiefs refrain from the selling of the remaining Agricultural lands in the Ofadaa community.
According to the aggrieved farmers, their Chiefs are confiscating their lands and selling them to highest bidder, and thereby rendering them jobless.
The association, which is formed by one hundred and fifty two (152) peasant farmers residing at Ofadaa and its surrounding villages in the Awutu Breku District in the Central Region of Ghana, has a stakeholders’ dialogue to discuss the best ways and means to protect their farm lands and their environment from their supposed detractors.
The dialogue was held at the conference hall of the PEKUS hotel in Kasoa, and brought together lots of farmers and their leadership from the Awutu Ofadaa traditional area to deliberate our how best to put efforts together to regain their confiscated farm lands which they alleged their chiefs have sold to other commercial pineapple farmers to farm on, and thereby rendering all local farmers jobless in the community.
Even those of them still holding onto just some portions of their own lands are living in fear that, their little may also be taken from them entirely.
The farmers narrated their story to the media in an interview that, Most of their forefathers were settlers who migrated from different places to acquire farm lands from the chief of Ofadaa and the chief of Asamankese to embark on farming so many years ago by our forefathers.
According to them, some of their forefathers who acquired the land bought them outright with official documents supporting it from the chiefs. Some of them also acquired it through the payment of homage to the stool or the chiefs annually through payment of monies.
They disclosed that, the agreement made with the chiefs was to plant cocoa, oil palm, coconut, citrus plant, plantain, yam etc on the farm lands. “And this has become our very livelihood from generation to generation in the Ofadaa Traditional Area. We the people of Ofadaa, do not have any major occupation that helps us cater for our families and pay our children’s school fees than our farming activities” they unearthed.
According to them, these farm lands have been passed on from generation to generation till their time, adding that farming has been their very livelihood and the only means of survive in the communities, without which, even their children have no future.
The poor peasant farmers, have however lamented the fact that their chiefs have since the year 2012, sold out their farm lands to some commercial pineapple farmers like, Jei Rever company, Zulu company, Blue skies etc, who without any prior notice, nor any negotiation at all, have come to totally destroy all their farm products and started their own commercial farming on the lands.
The local farmers said they have since been rendered jobless, where some of their members have even lost their lives out of shock due to the inhuman activities of the commercial farmers, with the power vested in them by the chiefs.
According to them, all efforts and attempts to get the authorities in the district to intervene on their behalf for the chiefs to properly dialogue and negotiate with them for the appropriate measures to be taken for them to also have some land to farm on, have proven futile, since they have been voiceless and too powerless to contest with their detractors.
They have however shown so much gratitude to BUSAC Fund and its development partners (DANIDA and USAID) and their grants monitor, Mr. Samuel Ofoe, for the financial and technical support that has aided them advocate for their rights.
The aggrieved farmers, have finally appealed to the government and all concerned agencies to come to their aid to;
1. Ensuring that the chiefs refrain from the selling of the remaining Agricultural lands in the Ofadaa community.
2. Stop or regulate the illegal sand winning activities that is destroying our environment and the open pit that are posing serious threats to our lives and those of our children in the community.
3. Facilitate a dialogue between the landowners and we the farmers to possibly relocate us to another land where we can continue our farming activities which is our very livelihood, or negotiate with the commercial farmers who are currently occupying our lands to release some portion of the lands to us to also farm on to help us survive.
According to their press statement release at the end of the dialogue, a timely intervention of the government and the authorities would not only save them in the community, but also the future of this nation, since their youth, who were all engaged in farming are now all loitering about jobless, with most of their children who are also future leadership of this nation, dropped out of school due to the fact that, their jobless parents can even barely feed them, talk less of being able to afford their school fees.
By: Nana Effei, Contributor