The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor has urged cocoa industry stakeholders to take steps to safeguard against the exploitation of Ghana's lands and forests in their efforts to boost cocoa production.
He stated that following the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change, the government was determined to put an end to deforestation and forest degradation caused by the production of these commodities.
The minister said this in his keynote address at the 2nd edition of the Orange Cocoa Day 2022, on the theme “exploring how improved access to land and tree tenure promotes sustainability in the cocoa value chain” in Accra on Monday.
He said as the population grows, competition for land in various sectors such as agriculture, forestry, mining, human settlement, infrastructure development and ecological sites would be inevitable; access to land will be a challenge not only for the agricultural sector but also for the forestry sector.
He added that a balance must be struck between all of these competing land uses without degrading them for current and future generations.
Mr Jinapor emphasized the significance of cocoa to Ghana, saying, "cocoa is not only a cash crop that contributes significantly to our economy in Ghana. It is also a historic commodity that is part of our heritage. With the crop being grown in nine of our country's 16 regions, the lives and livelihoods of many of our countrymen are dependent on the value chain of this commodity."
He noted that unlike many of the former British colonies, land in Ghana is mainly owned by stools, skins, clans, families and individuals, with the government controlling only about twenty per cent of lands, acquired from stools and families which makes Land Administration quite complex in the country.
The Minister said because access to land is a major anchor for development, the government in 2020 enacted the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) to lay the much-needed foundation required to catapult urgent reforms in land administration in the country.
"The Act harmonises and consolidates land-related laws, and establishes a framework for registering land rights and interests to ensure sustainable land administration and management, as well as an effective and efficient land tenure system," he noted.
Apart from land tenure, the Minister noted that improving tree tenure is also very crucial to the quest of preventing deforestation arising from agricultural practices.