The advent of real estate taking over agriculture

The age-old battle between urban development and agricultural land is reaching new heights as real estate ventures encroach upon fertile grounds, transforming vast stretches of farmland into sprawling residential complexes, malls, and commercial centres.

Across the country, prime agricultural lands are disappearing at an alarming rate, giving way to concrete jungles and high-rise buildings.

The once-serene landscapes are now marked by the noise of heavy machinery and the sight of cranes piercing the sky.

Farmers in some parts of Accra and the central region lament the harsh realities they face of losing agriculture and the source of our meal and to a large extent the country’s economy since Agriculture is highly considered the backbone to most nation’s economic stability.

Sadly, they often are at the mercy of landowners and real estate developers who push them out. How to make ends meet as a farmer is gradually becoming a problem due to the lack of fertile lands to grow their crops on and for buyers to purchase their harvests.

It will interest you to know that some of these farmers I spoke to have won awards on these same lands that real estate developers have taken over. Some of these farmers are the first nurturers of onion seeds in the Awutu Senya district.

If we lose our agriculture, if all the trees are felled, the very air that we breathe will be polluted and we will lose our lives as we lose our very essence of living. Remember when the last tree dies, the last man dies.

The Secretary of the General Agric Workers Union while speaking to Citi News, explains the nuances of farmland ownership and leasing.

He further explains how some real estate developers buy the lands from their owners and gradually push the farmer out without recourse to how his actions will adversely affect agriculture and our future as a nation if we happen to lose all these farmlands to real estate developers.

“It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening to our land,” He opines that without planning and proper regulations, we as a people will lose our agriculture.

Three farmers from Awutu Senya East expressed their concerns.

Yahaya Abdulai had this to say, “Generations of my family have worked on these fields, nurturing the soil and growing crops to feed the nation. Now, it’s all being taken away by real estate developers for the sake of profit. Yes, we do lease the lands from the chiefs of this community, yet there is no communication with us when the lands are sold so we can have ample time to harvest our produce and sell before the estate developers send graders to the mall to do our haul and leave us with nothing”.

David Gyamfi, another concerned farmer stated, “We are rotational crop farmers and we grow what is in season, harvest and sell. Lately, it has not been so due to the scarcity of land. We make do with what we have since real estate developers have built all around us and gradually pushed us away. We are mostly irrigation farmers and that is why the dam close to us is important to us and it serves us well, yet rubbish is about to be poured into the dam to fill it for it to be sold and used for buildings. We plead with the government to put us into high consideration because agriculture is what saves the nation”.

An aggrieved farmer who opted to speak off camera explained how all the farmlands he grew up helping cultivate, grow and harvest have been turned into buildings, forcing them to also evacuate the lands. All they are left is very small portions of land that he does crop rotation on.

“We have very vast lads we used to farm on, huge, today, the lands have been sold to real estate developers and we have nothing to say or anyone to fight for us.”
Issah Umaru is a farmer at Atomic Junction, near Bohye in Accra, who lamented how quickly they have been pushed out of the lands and its effects on their produce and harvest.

“Most of us farmers in the Bohye area have lived and farmed there for 35 to 40 years, today, as urbanization and high-rise buildings and settlements spring up, we will be forced to leave our homes and farms, how to fend for ourselves and their families has become a major problem.”

The head of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association, Samuel Amegayibor expatiates the nuances of land zoning and how it may affect farmlands, yet planning and policies have been set in place for farmers to grow their crops. “While we understand the concerns raised by farmers and environmentalists, urban expansion is necessary to accommodate growing populations and stimulate economic growth. We strive to balance development with sustainability, incorporating green spaces and eco-friendly practices into our projects.”

The deputy director of (luspa), Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority, explains how zoning will help solve most of these issues between farmlands and real estate developers that keep cropping up. “He reiterates how the three-tier planning put in place by luspa will help all stakeholders involved to plan for land zoning and segregation, so we do not lose all our lands to real estate developers.”

Mad Anita enlightens us on the roles of the local government and land acquisition in these areas. She explains that though farming is a greater part of our lives, she believes in the proper allocation of lands for various purposes and the roles each plays in the community and the nation at large.

The Minister for Works and Housing, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, opined that“ land banks that will allow for real estate developers to move into those enclaves to develop that kind of settlements required for them and also provide the necessary policy incentives that make it easier for the private real estate to develop in those enclaves. The spatial planning was not being better regulated. Land use and spatial planning authority will get stronger as times go by and bring more weight to bear on what land to use and what not to use”.

Experts warn that this trend poses a serious threat to food security and environmental sustainability. With each acre of farmland lost, we not only lose the ability to produce food locally but also exacerbate issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, and water scarcity.

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