|Agricultural Expansion and Pioneer Settlements in the Humid Tropics (UNU, 1988, 305 pages)|
|14. The land Tenure and agrarian system in the new cocoa frontier of Ghana: Wassa Akropong case study|
The migration of cocoa farmers into the relatively empty lands of the Wassa Akropong area is part of a larger system of global population movements into agricultural lands hitherto not settled by individual farmers. This kind of movement, referred to variously as spontaneous migration (Bahrin 1981), spontaneous transmigration (Fasbender, et al. 1981), spontaneous colonization (Dozier 1969), and spontaneous settlement (Uhlig 1984), contrasts with planned or directed agricultural resettlement schemes sponsored by many governments in the developing countries. It is associated with frontier areas, relatively empty agricultural lands which are unsettled, unappropriated, and unused (Reboratti 1981). The phenomenon is not new nor has it been restricted to a particular continent (Uhlig 1984).
Spontaneous migration of farmers into relatively empty agricultural lands leads to complex changes in the agrarian and ecological system in the frontier areas. The scope of this paper is, however, limited to a consideration of the changes which have occurred in the traditional land tenure systems in response to the demand for land by migrant cocoa farmers in the new cocoa frontier of the Western Region of Ghana and of the effects of these changes on the agrarian system.
The development of the cocoa industry in Ghana since the nineteenth century has been characterized by the spontaneous colonization of relatively empty lands by enterprising farmers. From the Akwapim ridge where the crop was first introduced during the second half of the last century, the cocoa frontier first moved further north into Ashanti with the construction of railways and roads from the coast into the interior. The early history of the expansion of the cocoa industry has been studied by a number of researchers, notably Hunter (1961), Hill (1963), and Johnson (1964). Their work, based largely on maps prepared by the Cocoa Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, provides a remarkably detailed account in English of the economics, sociology, and geography of the migration of cocoa farmers from the Krobo and Akwapim areas into the lands of south-east Akim Abuakwa. This early colonization was largely on land which was suitable for cocoa cultivation.
By the end of the Second World War, a greater part of the cocoa soils in the Eastern and Ashanti regions had been brought under cultivation. The near exhaustion of suitable cocoa land in these regions, combined with the devastation of cocoa by the swollen shoot disease in the Eastern Region, forced farmers to move into the less developed forest areas of the Brong-Ahafo (Adomako-Safo 1965), Central, and Western regions. These farmers were spurred on in their quest for new lands by high prices for cocoa in the early 1950s. The search for unclaimed land by pioneer cocoa farmers was greatly facilitated also by timber prospectors, who, in the course of their work, built a network of bush tracks. The farmers" frontier, by and large, followed that of the timber prospectors in a region where there were hardly any motorable roads (Benneh 1965).
The Study Area
The study was carried out in the Wassa Amenfi District in the Western Region of Ghana (fig. 1). The district lies within the forest zone of Ghana, and receives more than 1,500 mm of rainfall annually (fig. 2). Apart from the area under forest reserves, which constitutes about 30 per cent of the area of the district, the original vegetation has been converted into farm lands, land under various stages of fallow, and built up areas. An extensive part of the district is floored by the transitional oxy-ochrosol intergrades (fig. 3). To the north of the intergrades are the ochrosols. These are less leached and better for cocoa than the intergrades. To the south are the oxysols, which are more leached and are less suitable for cocoa cultivation.
As the population has increased with the influx of migrant farmers, the pressure on available land resources has increased. In 1948 the population of the district was 21,500. By 1960 it had increased to 57,537 (167.6%). In 1970 the population rose to 85,698. More than half (53.4%) of the population was born outside the district. The 1984 population census recorded 139,833 people for the district, an increase of 63.2 per cent.
The vast majority of the people in the district live in small, scattered farm settlements. According to the results of the 1984 population census, only 264 (12.4%) out of a total of 2,132 enumeration localities in the district were settlements with a population of 100 and above. The rest were farmsteads with a population of less than 10. The large settlements include Asankrangwa, the district administrative capital, with a population of 6,304 in 1984; Samreboi and Manso Amenfi, sawmill centres; and Wassa Akropong, the traditional capital (fig. 4).
There has been little public investment in social amenities in the district. Health facilities are few and unevenly distributed. The two existing hospitals are both locased in the west of the district, in Samreboi and Asankrangwa. The former was established by the sawmill company in the town, and the latter by the Catholic mission (fig. 5). There are few good roads. The only first class road is the 20 km stretch between Bawdie and Wassa Akropong. Out of 2,132 enumerated localities (1984 population census), over 70 per cent were not directly linked by roads. In 1981 only three settlements in the district-Asankrangwa, Samreboi, and Wassa Akropong-had access to potable drinking water. Although, under the government's Borehole Programme for rural communities, 130 wells have been sunk for 51 settlements (2.4%), the water situation in the district has not improved much. A recent survey revealed that more than 50 per cent of the pumps had broken down; the local people were not taught how to maintain them. In places such as Afransie, Tamakloe, and Gyedua, without wells, women and children walk not less than 5 km to fetch water from ponds during the dry season.
It is to this relatively undeveloped area that farmers have moved from the more developed areas of Ghana in search of land and new fortunes. The main focus of the present study is how these migrant farmers gain access to land in this frontier zone and the consequences of this for sound agricultural practice and management of resources.
Characteristics of the Farming Population
Two hundred and fifty heads of household or their representatives were interviewed in Wassa Akropong and in the following villages: Subriso, Japa, Afransie, Grumesa, Mehame, Gyedua, Nyamebekyere, and Tamakloe (fig. 1).
Of those interviewed, 93 (37.2%) were Wassa and the rest migrant farmers. Apart from the native Wassa, the main ethnic groups represented in the sample were Asante 61 (24.4%), Akwapim 27 (10.8%), and Ewe 19 (7.6%). Only 14 females were interviewed because there were not many female heads of households. The majority of the people interviewed were born outside the area: 105 (42%) were born outside the Western Region, while 71 (28.4%) were born outside the Wassa Amenfi District. The majority of respondents were illiterates (54.8%); only 9.2 per cent of those educated had gone beyond the primary school level. Fifty-eight respondents (23.2%) had technical training in agriculture. The main occupation was farming. Two hundred and thirty-one respondents (85.2%) worked on their holdings. Only 84 (33.6%) of those interviewed earned any income outside their holdings.