Championing Sustainable Investments in Cocoa Production in Ghana: Traditional Leaders Embrace Documentation for Customary Tenancy Agreements

In the lush landscapes of Ghana's Ashanti region, cocoa farming is one of the major economic activities for income and livelihood. Traditional leaders have embarked on a transformative journey that promises to secure the future of smallholder cocoa production and strengthen women’s participation in the cocoa value chain. Under a strategic partnership which begun about two years ago, Oxfam and COLANDEF, have been implementing the "Enhancing Land Tenure Security for Smallholder Cocoa Farmers Project in Ghana". The project is designed to transform the customary land administration system to deliver supportive services for enhancing the security of land rights for cocoa farmers. The ultimate goal is to sustain the investments made in cocoa farms and promote sustainability of the cocoa value chain. Traditional leaders of the Tepa and Toase traditional areas, are at the forefront of this transformation in their respective traditional areas. The two traditional leaders are spearheading the implementation of this transformation because cocoa farming has been a major activity for farmers in the traditional are for many years. 

There are over 29,850 cocoa farmers in the two traditional areas, with 45% being women, 47% non-indigenes with unclear land rights and limited security of tenure. With increasing awareness on the risks. Some of the farmers sought avenues for documenting their land rights but found not sustainable solution to the problem because of the gaps in the documentation services they sourced. As a result of the incomplete and/or inaccurate documentation, disputes over boundaries and ownership have increased in the two traditional areas, creating a challenge for the paramount chiefs and elders who have to sit in their traditional court to resolve. It was reported that in 2022, land disputes accounted for around 60% of the cases that the traditional courts handled each week. 

Under the project, Oxfam and COLANDEF have sensitized 487 farmers and 40 members of traditional leadership in the two traditional areas, providing participants with the knowledge and understanding on land rights and mechanisms for securing land rights. Training of local stewards who serve as administrators at the Customary Land Secretariats has also been done in addition to supporting them to build the institutional structure and systems for improved land rights documentation.   

Outcomes achieved so far include.

A.    Increased understanding of national policy context for land governance and implications for customary land rights holders

B.    Improved institutional set up for land rights documentation.

C.     Increased capacity of traditional leaders in handling land governance role 

D.    Re-organized land dispute resolution mechanism