On Wednesday the 2nd of November 2016, the Demeter team gathered for a workshop in Accra, fulfilled a promise they made to the community during the time of the data collection: the team came back to share the findings of the field work with a community in Kwaebibirem District. To start the discussions with the elders and members of the community, the team was welcomed by the chief, his council members and a section of the community. Dr. Dzanku, a researcher in the Demeter project, informed them that this visit was to share findings from the earlier visit. The community leader introduced the members of the council to the team. Dr. Dzanku then introduced Demeter team members to the community. He then went ahead to talk about the findings from the study in the community.
He talked about issues related to access to land, food security, markets and the involvement of the youth in the cultivation of vegetables. He also added that there appeared to be competition between cocoa and oil palm cultures. He remarked that during the interviews with the male respondents, most of them complained about restricted access to land from the family and as such are forced to enter into share cropping arrangements in order to gain access to land. On the other hand, women have access to family land, can inherit it and pass it on to their children. Notwithstanding this, the data revealed that men have bigger plots of lands than women.
The community leader observed that the women’s lands are smaller because of fragmentation as a result of the equal division of lands amongst the females in the family. Men have bigger plots of land because they often go in for several share cropping arrangements simultaneously and they often have the necessary resources to manage these farms. He added that cocoa is more attractive than oil palm because of the life span of the tree (around 50 years or more) compared to that of an oil palm (around 25 years). Moreover, the income from cocoa is bulk and can be invested unlike the proceeds from oil palm which come in smaller quantities although much more frequent (every two weeks).
Dr. Awo, researcher in the Demeter project, talked about inheritance issues in the community and asked who is likely to be the inheritor of a man’s land. The leader community replied that whoever he chooses will inherit from him. It could be his children or members of his extended family.
Dr. Awo then asked why the youth are so involved in the cultivation of vegetables rather than cocoa. One young man replied that the vegetables provide regular income that can support the family while waiting for the oil palm to mature and start fruiting. The vegetables mature between two to three months and that helps them to get regular income for their households.
Some of the community members complained about labour issues in the community. They commented that day labour wages are insufficient Most of the farmers are also devoting their time to their own farms and are reluctant to work on the farms of others. Some of the community members also prefer to work for illegal miners since they get more from it compared to the money they get from working as labourers on the farms.