Traditional Land Tenure, Agricultural Productivity, and Environmental Management in Ghana

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Traditional Land Tenure, Agricultural Productivity, and Environmental Management in Ghana
Mourant, Alexander
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Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural land ( jstor )
Agricultural land use ( jstor )
Agriculture ( jstor )
Farmers ( jstor )
Forests ( jstor )
Land economics ( jstor )
Land management ( jstor )
Land tenure ( jstor )
Land use ( jstor )
Taungya system ( jstor )
Agricultural productivity
Land tenure
Rural development
Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Traditional land tenure systems have been blamed for low agricultural productivity in Africa. This paper studies land tenure systems in Ghana to observe the impact of traditional land tenure systems in an African country. Through a comprehensive synthesis of case study research, this paper analyzes the role of traditional land tenure systems in rural communities within Ghana. Most case study research of land tenure in Ghana suggests that traditional land tenure is not the most important limiting factor for agricultural productivity. Instead, poor education and low access to agricultural inputs have more deleterious effects. Although traditional land tenure functions well for many in Ghana's rural communities, it treats women and migrants inequitably by restricting their access to land. Modified taungya, an innovative policy solution to the problem of low land access for the poor, is discussed as an alternative to an overhaul of land tenure institutions. ( en )
General Note:
Awarded Bachelor of Arts; Graduated May 3, 2011 summa cum laude. Major: Economics
General Note:
Advisor: Katrina Schwartz
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College/School: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
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Legacy honors title: Only abstract available from former Honors Program sponsored database.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Alexander Mourant. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Traditional Land Tenure, Agricultural Productivity, and Environmental Management in Ghana Alexander Mourant Katrina Schwartz April 20 2011 Political Science Honors Thesis


1 Introduction Economic growth in Africa has been slow s ince the conclusion of colonialism in the mid 1900s. While countries in Asia and Latin America have experienced more rapid economic growth and approached higher levels of economic development, Africa has lagged behind (World Resource Institute 2007) The agricultural sector in particular has shown little growth. Numerous reasons for Africa's stagnation in agricultural production are cited by experts especially land tenure systems. Land in Africa is not used to its full potential, with low levels of inputs and investments in the land slowing growth in the agricultural sector. Agricultural input intensity in Africa is a small fraction of input intensity in the rest of the world (9.6 kg/Ha in Africa compared to 222.1 kg/Ha in Asia and 195 kg/Ha in Sout h America in 2007 ) (World Resource Institute 2007). Land use is often unproductive and yields are relatively low. Soil degradation, food in security, and extreme inequality are mounting problems faced by Africans. Sub Saharan Africa, in particular, is in a state "characterized by low input and low output agriculture with depleted soil bases and depleted supp l ies of fuelwood and other tree products" (Otsuka and Place 2001, 3). Experts have blamed Africa's land tenure systems for the anemic state of Africa 's agricultural sphere. According to them, traditional land tenure promotes inefficiency and prevents communities from reaching their economic potential O ut of all the factors contributing to low productivity, unequal access to land and insecure land te nure have the most profound eff ect on the livelihoods of smallholders in Africa (Eco nomic Commission for Africa 2009, 7).


2 Other scholars argue that such a view is mistaken, giving land tenure undue importance while it is actually the dearth of capital and ed ucation on the continent which drives agricultural productivity down. They claim that traditional land tenure systems are more resilient than more privatized land tenure and can address the immediate needs of communities more effectively. Criti cism of trad itional land tenure is said to be based on cultural misunderstandings rather than legitimate analysis. A study of the circumstances and conditions of a single country can provide a greater understanding of the credence of each side in this debate In this thesis, I explore the situation in Ghana, a country in West Africa w ith a large agricultural sector. Like much of Africa, Ghana is home to many rural communities that are s till operating under traditional land tenure systems. Therefore, Ghana represents a useful case study on the effects of land tenure systems in Africa. A thorough examination of Ghana can help to explain whether customary land tenure systems i n Africa hinder growth and cause environmental degradation or if the effects of customary land te nure systems are overstated. This thesis is a comprehensive synthesis of case study research on aspects of land tenure in Ghan a. Through j uxtaposing the existing r esearch on land tenure in Ghana this paper is intended to further the understanding of land tenure systems in Africa. Land Tenure Land tenure is a term to describe the rules governing the property rights individuals hold over land. Much of Sub Saharan Africa operates under traditional land tenure systems which are more communal than modern, indiv idual land rights (Otsuka


3 and Place 2001, 9) Sub Saharan Africa's traditional land tenure systems are constantly evolving, but are still community based (Otsuka and Place 2001, 9) Development practitioners have historically promoted land tenure reform in Africa in order to promote economic development. They hold that westernization of land tenure systems will spark competition and efficiency within the agricultural sector. This development attitude is a result of experience s in economic development of oth er parts of the developing world such as Latin America and Asia C ountries in Latin America and Asia have had highly unequal land distribution prior to land reform and restructuring of land tenure systems ; economic growth followed those reforms suggestin g that land reform and tenure restructuring were necessary condition for developme nt (Hunter and Mabbs Zeno 1986, 110). Africa has long suffered from underdevelopment, with low agricultural productivity that many at least partly attribute to weak property rights inherent in traditional management systems ( Hunter and Mabbs Zeno 1986, 110). Economists have suggested that implementing private property systems rather than the communal property systems would correct for Africa's slow development. Thus, l and ten ure reform has been a common component o f plans for development in Africa. Communal ownership of a resource will lead to a degradation of that resource under the theory of Garrett Hardin's "tragedy of the commons" (Hardin 1968, 1244). Hardin explains his "tragedy of the commons" using the example of a pasture open to all that is employed for grazing cattle. Each herdsman collects the entire profit from every head of cattle they have grazing while they share the costs of overgrazing with the other herdsmen. Under Hardin's scenario, the herdsmen will collectively own more cattle than


4 the commons can support because the individual benefit of overgrazing is larger than the individual cost. The social cost of overgrazing is ignored by individuals acting in their best interest, according to Hardin. As a result, t he commons will be degraded, impairing the livelihoods of the herdsmen (Hardin 1968, 1244). Common property can create perverse incentives I ndividuals are expected to act in their personal interest in co mmon property settings even if those actions may have deleterious effects on the welfare of the community, so farmers will allow their animals to overgraze or will exploit the soil nutrients rather than encourage the sustainable well being of the resource ( Gordon 1954, 135; Hardin 1968, 1244). Hardin suggested two solutions for the "tragedy of the commons," either instituting private property so that individuals will manage resources in their economic interest or government regulation so that individuals a re not allowed to overexploit the resources (Hardin 1968, 1244) Scholars accepting the premise of the "tragedy of the commons" are divided over the role of government in responding to the common property problem (Ostrom 1990, 8 14). Some espouse the view that governmental regulation is the only efficient way to ensure protection and proper management of the common resource (Ehrenfeld 1972, 322; Carruthers and Stoner 1981, 29). According to this school of thought, governmental regulation can identify and s et the maximum sustainable rate of resource use, preventing exploitation of the resource beyond that rate (Ostrom 1990, 8 11). The regulatory solution depends on the assumptions that government has accurate information, that government has the power to reg ulate, and regulation would have minimal costs (Ostrom 1990, 10). The other school of thought regarding solving common property problems relies more on the efficiency of markets.


5 Economists espouse private property rights as a solution to problems with com mon pr operty resources, since privatization of property promotes actions which preserve and enhance value of the resource ( Demsetz 1967, 112; Scott 1995, 116 ) "No one will tackle the trouble to husband and maintain a resource unless he has a reasonable ce rtainty of receiving some portion of the product of his management; that is, unless he has some property right in the yield" (Scott 1995, 116). Under the assumption that individuals behave to maximize their welfare, the possessor of a resource will use the ir property efficiently and will not overexploit the resource because it will cause their property to lose value. Elinor Ostrom (1990, 13 15) proposes a middle ground between government regulation and market privatization that is more context based Ostro m offers the proposition that a variety of solutions to common property problems may exist and that some of those solutions need not be imposed on the affected individuals (1990, 14). Ostrom suggests the individuals themselves could solve common property p roblems on their own through collective action (1990, 14). Thus, the community itself could be able to effectively manage common property resources. Some scholars disagree with the conceptual framework of the "tragedy of the commons asserting that it doe s not define the context of common property at all, but instead explains open access resources (Ciriacy Wantrup and Bishop 1975, 715; Quiggin 1988, 1073 ; Lawry 1990, 405 ). While open access resources are free to be exploited by anyone, "common property is the property of a defined group of owners" where some or all owners have limited access (Quiggin 1988, 1073). Misinterpretation of common


6 property "has led to major analytical errors when economists have been confronted with actual and historical common pr operty situations" (Quiggin 1988, 1071). Ciriacy Wantrup an d Bishop (1975) explain a situation in Western Germany and Switzerland where most forests were held by the community as common property but some were divided into private woodlots. The community m anaged resource was strategically managed as an intact unit, whil e the private woodlots were not large enough to function efficiently. In that situation, the commons were well maintained while the privatized land was degraded, necessitating government inte rvention to protect the resource (Ciriacy Wantrup and Bishop 1975, 720). The German forestry example suggests that communal ownership systems may not inherently endanger the resources being managed, as the "tragedy of the commons" would dictate. An advanta ge of communal resources is that the community can pool management of resources which would not succeed under fractured ownership (Lawry 1990, 406 407). Some claim that a gricultural communities in the developing world may benefit f rom common property sy st ems One reason is that "costs of delineating clear private property rights to many kinds of resources would be prohibitively high" (Lawry 1990, 405). According to these scholars, local leaders operating outside of government bureaucracy may more cheaply a nd efficiently govern rights to cultivate land (Ciriacy Wantrup and Bishop 1975, 721; Lawry 1990, 405). The debate between communal versus individualized property rights is important for Africa and for Ghana in particular. Ghana has undergone a transforma tion from purely traditional land tenure systems to a mixture of communal and individual land


7 tenure systems. The history of land tenure can be used as a backdrop to the strengths and weaknesses of the different land tenure systems in Ghana. History of For est Management in Ghana Ghana is a predominantly rural country in West Africa endowed with rich forest resources and land suitable for agriculture Ghana has two distinct ecological areas, a high forest zone in the south, near the Atlantic Ocean, and a sav annah woodland zone in the north with a transitional zone in between the two (Poffenberger 1996, 28). The south is the most agriculturally productive area as climate and soil conditions disfavor agriculture in the north. Ghana has a tropical climate that v aries throughout the country: the area along the southeast coast is warm and relatively dry, the southwest is hot and humid, and the north is hot and arid (CIA World Factbook 2011 ). Communal land tenure systems practicing s hifting agriculture w ere the no rm in Ghana until the 1800s, when the influence of British colonialism brought cocoa plantations and commercial logging activities to Ghana (Poffenberger 1996, 28 29). The British established the Forest Department of the Gold Coast Colony in 1909 which slo wly took over authority in land management from traditional groups (Poffenberger 1996, 28). Since then, government has played an important role in land management within Ghana. Ghana achieved independence from British colonial rule on March 6, 1957 (Kasang a and Kotey 2001, 2). Shortly thereafter, the government of Ghana established influence over land management. Successive laws were passed to give the government greater c ontrol and rights to the land within the country, ignoring customary land ownership. T he Ashanti Stool Land Act of 1958 and Akim Abuakwa Act of 1958 gave


8 the President power over two important southern stools which had been major supporters of a rival political party (Kasanga and Kotey 2001, 2). Sto ols are the paramount chiefs in rural Ghan a, with power over land rights under traditional land tenure. The 1962 Administration of Lands Act nationalized land without respecting customary land rights (Economic Commission for Africa 2009, 86). The Lands Commission was created with the 1969 Constitu tion and the Lands Commission Act of 1971 and placed under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources ( Kasanga and Kotey 2001, 3). The 1979 Constitution preserved the role of the Lands Commission, but moved it directly under the President (Kasanga and Kot ey 2001, 3). The new 1979 Constitution gave the Lands Commission autonomy and control over stool lands, with the authority to control rents and revenues associated with the stools (Kasanga and Kotey 2001, 3). Other laws, like Article 267 of the 1992 Consti tution, and the Administrator of Stools Land Act of 1994 were implemented in order to further reduce the power of chiefs (Economic Commission for Africa 2009, 86). The role of most of these laws was to place more of the authority over land use decisions in to the hands of government and diminish the influence local leaders and institutions held. Rather than promote small scale agriculture, the government mainly supported plantation style agriculture. Plantation agriculture has increasingly been practic ed wit h the government's assistance Research shows increased commercialization and expropriation of land as a result of the production of export crops, a phenomenon that has spread from pioneering zones of virgin lands to ancestral lands (Economic Commission for Africa 2009, 86). Despite pressure from the government and industry, communal land ownership and


9 shifting agriculture persist in Ghana. Traditional land tenure systems play an important role in the livelihoods of many rural communities in Ghana. The a rrival of cocoa plantations was associated with removal of primary forests (Poffenberger 1996, 29). T he government responded to wide scale deforestation by designating l arge areas of high forest as reserves to protect natural resource wealth and provide ad equate forest cover for cocoa production which thrives with some tree shading The government supported logging outside the reserves in the name of economic growth. M uch of the land outside the preserves was cleared by commercial logging interests ( Poffen berger 1996, 29 ). By the late 1950's, Ghana's forestry policy revolved around timber exploitation in the pursuit of short term revenue streams at the expense of long term ecosystem health ( Poffenberger 1996, 29 ). The government designated trees in the coun try as state property, taking away legal rights of small holders for that land. Afikorah Danquah explained that "the practice of leaving trees standing in fields has tended to be undermined by government legislation on tree tenure, which, by designating suc h trees as state controlled, gives farmers little incentive to protect them" (Afikorah Danquah 1997, 42). The government of Ghana often promoted expansion of the timber industry for revenue generation geared at development, at the expense of small holders w hose trees were felled by loggers without their consent (Poffenberger 1996, 29). Farmers who had invested heavily through labor and inputs into cultivating trees could swiftly lose the tree without remuneration. "Individuals did not receive any portion of royalties and had no legal right to be informed of, or to refuse, felling of trees by timber concession holders" (Mayer, Howard, Kotey, Prah, and Richards 1996, 17). This infringement of land rights


10 of the smallholders in Ghana discouraged investment in tr ee crops for more sustainable land use, like agroforestry techniques, because tree tenure security was weak. The government position towards the traditional land tenure systems in agrarian communities had been unsupportive until recently, when it began to focus on increasing the role of communities in forest management. The Forestry Department's 1996 Forestry Development Master Plan encouraged collaboration between government, industry, and communities to more properly manage forests and preserve the envir onment, while supporting economic growth (Poffenberger 1996, 32). The government of Ghana no longer focuses on dismantling communal land tenure systems and instead attempts to work with the communities to reach desired ends of economic development. This pa radigm shift demonstrates an acceptance of traditional land tenure systems and a preference to work with them toward goals of development. Property Rights and Land Tenure in Ghana Many Ghanaian communities still operate under their complex, traditional lan d rights systems. Land tenure regimes in Ghana are intermingl ed with a mixture of statutory and communal land ownership. Traditional land tenure systems in Ghana are more communal and fluid than the private systems of the western world which are espoused b y some as an essential condition for successful economic development, but the traditional systems are constantly evolving and occur concurrently with individualized land ownership. The Akan groups in southern Ghana follow a system of uterine matrilineal in heritance, where land is bequeathed to men on the maternal side rather than to wives and children (Quisumbing, Payongayong, Aidoo, and Otsuka 2001, 158) M ore land has


11 been transferred to wives and children in recent times through gifts and as a result of the Intestate Succession Law (Quisumbing, Payongayong, Aidoo, and Otsuka 2001, 164). Land is considered the property of the paramount chieftaincy, called a stool, and is controlled by the extended maternal family, known as an abusua (Goldstein and Udry 200 8, 985). Historically in northern Ghana, figures called the t endamba" were the title holders of land in villages and towns (Kasanga 1995, 23). The t endamba allocated vacant lands, settled land disputes, and acted as a spiritual leader in respect to the earth god" (Kasanga 1995, 23). Chiefs took over the rights to land over time and now the tendamba do not have authority over land amongst the major tribes of northern Ghana: the Dagomba, Nanumba, Gonja or Mamprusi (Kasanga 1995, 24). Inheritance under thei r system is typically conducted through patrilineal descent. Under the traditional system, i ndigenous and non indigenous people are allowed to use land and have a strong right to reap the earnings from their investments on th at land, despite the fact that it is a communally owned resource (Kasanga 1995, 24). Unlike the Western system of property rights which are more clearly defined, the claims over land overlap in Ghana as each aspects of tenure can be shared or held by different people (Goldstein and Udr y 2008, 985). Claims on land are ambiguous as cultivating a certain plot may or may not be associated with tree tenure, the right to lend land, the right to make improvements, and even the right to pass on the right to cultivation (Goldstein and Udry 2008, 985). This complex system of land rights can promote poor resource management as the right to access benefits from investment in the land may be unclear. People with undefined rights with the land would theoretically be


12 less likely to contribute to its lo ng term wellbeing. Despite its potential downsides, t here are some benefits to this type of property rights system. Property rights are more malleable and can adapt to the needs of the present as determined by the community, but it comes at the expense of incentivizing neglectful land use. Theoretically, r ather than properly care for soil quality or contribute to improving the land, an individual with insecure land tenure would have the incentive to mine the soil of nutrients and neglect its long term well being. Land rights are strong when it is being cultivated, but the land can be taken by the community while left in a period of fallow (Goldstein and Udry 2008, 986). The loss of land rights during a fallow period is a particularly treacherous aspect of th e traditional system because leaving lands fallow is the common technique for regenerating soil quality after periods of cultivation ( Adjei Nsiah, et al. 2004, 340; Goldstein and Udry 2008, 986). Without an extended period of fallow, the soil can be degrad ed after too many consecutive years of cultivation. The fallow system of cultivation performed in Ghana is a simple and low input method for preserving soil quality. Rather than apply inputs into the soil, the technique employed in fallowing is clearing la nd that had been left under a fallow and burning the brush, then cultivating the land with annual crops like cassava and maize. After a few years of cultivation, the vegetable harvests decrease because soil nutrients have been depleted The farmers then ce ase cultivating the land and allow it to return to fallow, where it will recover. Forest fallow phases typically last between four and fifteen years separated by two to six years of cropping (Mobbs and Cannell 1995, 113). While an effective method for ensu ring long term soil stability, the fallow system is not economically efficient if land is scarce as land is kept out of production for an extended


13 period of time, providing little value to the community. Fallow systems of cultivation also cannot support a large population, as most agricultural land is kept out of production at any single point. Population pressure can force land into production before nutrients are replenished, draining the soil. Other agroforestry systems are discouraged by the traditiona l land tenure systems of Ghana Smallholders will not invest the labor and resources into cultivating and caring for trees in a mixed agroforestry system if they do not hold the rights to the trees over the long term. If trees are felled without remunerati on or land is taken away, a smallholder loses a resource that they invested into heavily. Thus, the tenure insecurity can reduce investment into intercropping trees and annual cash crops. Productivity of Land under Traditional Land Tenure Systems Detractor s of traditional land tenure systems claim that the inefficiency of communal land ownership harms the productivity in agriculture. Supporters of traditional land tenure believe that shortages of capital and technology are the most important factors reducin g agricultural yields in Africa. Empirical studies have been conducted in Ghana to analyz e the merits of these arguments. Zhang and Owiredu (2007) performed an empirical regression on the relationship between land tenure, market incentives, and forest pla ntation investment. Regressions were run using data from the Asante Bekwai forest district in southern Ghana. Zhang and Owiredu found a strong correlation between land tenure security and investment in forest plantations (Zhang and Owiredu 2007, 609). Hous eholds with stronger land tenure were more likely to invest in forest lands and promote improvements in the soil fertility within the study (Zhang and Owiredu 2007, 609). Zhang and Owiredu argued that communal


14 land tenure systems were inefficient because t hey cause conflict and low land security; the suggested solution, according to their study is increasing the transferability and security of land rights (Zhang and Owiredu 2007, 609). According to them, g reater transferability would allow the land markets to function more efficiently and benefit those who invest into the land. Besley conducted empirical research of land tenure and investment in two areas within the southern part of Ghana: Wassa, where cocoa production predominates a nd Anloga, where growers mostly produce shallots ( 1995, 913). Besley explored three aspects of the relationship between land tenure and investment : freedom from expropriation, using land as collateral, and the ability to buy or sell land Land tenure provides freedom from expropr iation, such that someone with secure land tenure will invest more in their land. Secure land tenure should also allow more financial freedom as land can be used for collateral, freeing up funds for investment. Stronger land tenure also can influence inves tment if it results in greater ease of trade, individuals can rent or sell land for an increased value after investing in it (Besley 1995, 907). The results from the regressions were mixed. Wassa showed a significant relationship between land tenure and in vestment however the data from Anloga w ere not as clearly supportive of Besley's supposition that tenure increases investment in land. Anloga's data may be explained by endogeneity of rights, greater investment in land may itself increase the rights an in divid ual holds to land (Besley 1995, 936). If under the traditional land tenure systems, individuals who invest in the land have a higher chance of retaining rights to that land in perpetuity, the traditional system supports proper management practices.


15 Ab dulai and Ndekugri studied landholding institutions as an impediment to development using surveys from two areas in northern Ghana, Tamale and Bolgatanga ( 2008, 23). The case studies found no evidence that land tenure was restricting agricultural productiv ity. They explained that "the traditional land tenure systems do not constrain individual ownership so as to be an impediment to the economic use of land" (Abdulai and Ndekugri 2008, 34). The authors analyze the scholarly assessment that land tenure in Gh ana is strictly communal and find that is a common m isconception not supported by an accurate understanding of the culture of Ghana. While the system has communal aspects, individual land rights are recognized and protected by the community institutions (A bdulai and Ndekugri 2008, 33). Abdulai and Ndekugri assert that customary land tenure in Ghana is communal in name, but individual ownership of land predominates land use decision making for smallholders ( 2008, 34). Bugri explored the role of tenure secur ity in northeastern Ghana in agricultural productivity and environmental health (Bugri 2008, 271). Bugri conducted interviews to understand the commonly perceived limits to agricultural production. The results of the study showed strong faith in the tradit ional land tenure system. A majority of community members (69%) and migrants (59%) said that customary land tenure had higher security than statutory tenure (Bugri 2008, 276). Agrarian communities in Ghana respect the security of traditional institutions m ore than governmental institutions. Community members felt that the traditional system adequately met their needs. Although farmers were confident in their tenure security, they noted a decrease in agricultural productivity over time and related it to a nu mber of other factors, including poor access to credit, weather variability, and inadequate farmland (Bugri 2 008, 2 82). This study supports the


16 assertion that rather than traditional tenure systems, low access to capital and technology are the main factors harming agricultural production in Africa. Place and Hazell used the data from household surveys of eight regions in Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda in econometric models to analyze the relationship between land tenure and agricultural productivity (Place and H azell 1993, 11). They described people cultivating land as ho ld ing three tiers of rights to that land: limited transfer, where land cannot be permanently transferred; preferential transfer, where land can be bequeathed to family members; and complete right s, where land can be sold and owners have strong tenure rights (Place and Hazell 1993, 12). Regressions found that land rights had a statistically insignificant effect on yields in all of the study regions (Place and Hazell 19 93, 19 ). Place and Hazell expl ain that the results of their analysis suggest that weak land tenure does not cause poor yield but instead other limits like insufficient capital and technology harm agricultural productivity in Africa (Place and Hazell 1993, 19). Their study indicates tha t traditional land tenure systems are sufficient for promoting high yielding agriculture as long as farmers have access to technology and capital. Adjei Nsiah et al. studied the perceptions of farmers in the Wenchi district and found notable misunderstand ings of management practices which would promote soil improvement. Most striking is the cropping of cassava for 18 24 months, which smallholders claim to increase the fertility of the soil (Adjei Nsiah et al. 2004, 332). Cassava is a heavy nutrient feed er which extract s soil macronutrients and if excessively planted, it will lead to a reduction in soil fertility (Adjei Nsiah et al. 2004, 332). T his finding shows a clear need for education of rural growers on basic soil management.


17 Such a clear deficiency in education on soil fertility indicates sever underinvestment in human capital. Education on land management is a limit on agricultural productivity. Studies of land tenure in rural communities within Ghana show mixed results. While some research indicates that the traditional system is inefficient and productivity increases with individualization of rights, others find technology and capital to be the more important fa ctors causing low productivity. A majority of the current research supports the latter arg ument, suggesting traditional land tenure systems should not be treated as a main component of the low agricultural productivity in Africa. Additionally, agrarian communities believe that their traditional land tenure systems provide secure property rights Those communities do not see a need for more individualization of property rights and do not equate low agricultural productivity to land tenure. Taungya Systems in Ghana While a dichotomy between either traditional, communal land property and modern, in dividualized property has been presented by scholars, other innovative land tenure systems can play a role in economic development. The perception of land tenure as a choice between the two systems is faulty and results in the discounting of novel policy s olutions to rural poverty. Other policy solutions and methods of land use can be applied to meet the needs of the poor and achieve economic development, particularly in rural areas. The taungya system of agroforestry is one policy solution that is being em ployed in Ghana for these goals. The taungya plantation system which gives the poorest access to land for cultivation has been practiced in Gha na since the 1930s The taungya plantation system is an arrangement where farmers are given degraded land to prod uce food crops in


18 exchange for a commitment to tend to timber trees on the same land (Agyeman et al. 2003, 40). Annual food crops, like plantain, cocoyam, and vegetables are interplanted with timber trees. While timber trees are small, the annual crops gro w well and can provide food and a suitable income for the farmers cultivating the land. After a few years the trees compete with the farmers' annual crops taking up more nutrients and shading the crops, making farming on that land impossible. Then the lan d is used solely for cultivation of the timber trees as they slowly mature. Taungya systems service multiple purposes. Under a taungya system, landowners can benefit from productive use of their land without paying for labor costs. Farmers are given access to land and the freedom to make use of it efficiently for a couple years, while the tree crops are still small. Land that had been degraded is returned to productive use that prevents further degradation of the soil. A taungya system, under th e ideal cond itions would serv e goals of economic profitability, social equity, and environmental preservation. Yet, taungya as first instituted in Ghana was not ideal. Under the traditional taungya plantation systems, farmers were not provided any benefits from the ti mber production, providing an incentive to cheat (Agyeman et al. 2003, 40). The traditional taungya system suffered from an improper incentive system. While farmers reaped rewards from the annual crops they maintained in the early years, the trees they wer e tasked with tending reduced the yields they received from their labor. Thus, farmers had no reason to take proper care of the trees while they were young. Many farmers neglected the tree crops in order to maintain access to the land for a longer time; so me methods undertaken by farmers to retard plantation development included killing


19 planted seedlings, allowing weeds to compete with tree crops, and planting food crops that directly slowed t ree growth (Agyeman et al. 2003, 40). Due to the widespread abus es of the taungya system, Ghana suspended the program in 1984. Despite its suspension, taungya had man y supporters in Ghana because of its potential to fulfill social, economic, and environmental goals of sustainable development by providing a proper livel ihood for the poorest in society and returning degraded land to a productive use. A modified taungya system was proposed and developed by the Government of Ghana in concert with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the World Ban k (Agyeman et al. 2003, 41). The modified taungya system differs from the traditional taungya system by ensur ing more equitable benefit sharing between the stakeholders. Farmers are promised a large share of the profits (40%) accrued from timber production removing the inefficient incentives of the older system (Agyeman et al. 2003, 41). Blay et al. studied modified taungya plantation systems by conducting personal interviews of 431 farming households and ten "informants" from ten communities living near forest reserves ( 2008, 503). The study showed remarkable buy in from the ten communities, with around 70% of the population of the communities having p lanted trees (Blay et al. 2008, 509). That number indicates widespread acceptance and community support o f the program. The potential gains if taungya is unde rtaken by 70% of a community are numerous, with massive benefits to the environment and community members The study was performed early on in the implementation of the modified taungya system so the lon g term results are not clear, but the large scale buy in from the


20 community and the rehabilitation of degraded lands indicates the important role the modified taungya system can play in rural development within Ghana. Opoku Boamah and Sato (2010) researche d the attitudes of migrant and indigenous farmers toward s Ghana's modif ied taungya system They carried out a comprehensive household survey of 44 taungya farmers in the Asuboi community in Ghana's transitional zone to evaluate how the modified taungya sys tem impacts both groups (Opoku Boamah and Sato 2010, 183) Opoku Boamah and Sato found that migrants and landless indigenous farmers were greatly benefited by the modified taungya system, because it provides access to land that is far less expensive than r enting or sharecropp ing ( 2010, 188). Farmers who were mainly sharecroppers before working with the modified taungya plantations also have more reason to properly care for the trees so they can stay in the program and acquire new plots to tend (Opoku Boamah and Sato 2010, 188). Their study displays the benefits of an innovative and untraditional land tenure system. Modified taungya does not fit into the traditional paradigm of Ghana's communal land tenure systems, nor does it apply the privatization espouse d by some in the development sphere but it can be significant in meeting the goals of sustainable development and poverty alleviation. The poorest members of rural communities are given the opportunity to cultivate land and profit for their labor. T he modi fied t aungya system provides them an alternative to sharecropping or renting land at high costs while promoting responsible land use in the process


21 Migrants in Traditional Land Tenure Systems Agrarian communities in the transitional forest savannah an d forest zones of Ghana host two groups who engage in farming, the indigenous villagers and migrant farmers from the drier and less fertile north. I ndigenous and migrant communities in agricultural regions are influenced differently by the dominant land te nure systems. While indigenous farmers have more land tenure security and access to land through familial connections, migrant farmers suffer from lower tenure security and less access to quality land. Migrants' insecurity of land tenure has a variety of e ffects on their land management choices and the wellbeing of those groups. Afikorah Danquah conducted a case study in the Wenchi area within the northern forest savannah transitional zone evaluating the differences in land management between indigenous lan downers and immigrant farmers ( 1997, 40). I ndigenous landowners generally have secure rights over land for cropping while immigrants hold insecure, short term rights to land (Afikorah Danquah 1997, 40 42). Land management techniques differ between the indi genous farmers and the migrant farmers. As a result of their relatively stronger land tenure security, indigenous farmers devote resources to forest fallowing and long term productivity (Afikorah Danquah 1997, 42). Immigrant farmers respond to their insecu re land tenure by maximizing short term extraction from the land, at the expense of soil quality. Immigrants remove trees to expand annual crop production, they engage in frequent hoeing, and they do not leave land to regenerate nutrients through fallowing (Afikorah Danquah 1997, 43). Adjei Nsiah et al. (2004) also studied the dynamics of land management practices, comparing indigenous farmers and immigran t farmers in the Wenchi region


22 through a blend of community meetings, group discussions, and individual interviews. They found a variety of land tenure arrangements being practiced in Wenchi, with indigenous farmers benefitting from access to family land inherited either from paternal or maternal lineage and migrant farmers working as hired laborers or acqu iring land over the short term through sharecropping or taungya (Adjei Nsiah et al. 2004, 335). Migrants were shown to work with smaller parcels of land than indigenous farmers, as renting additional land was economically unfeasible (Adjei Nsiah et al. 200 4, 336). Indigenous and migrant farmers also grow different crop varieties. Crops like plantain, pigeon pea, and cocoyam require more time until harvesting so they are largely cultivated by indigenous farmers who have more land tenure security (Adjei Nsiah et al. 2004, 336). Migrant farmers risk losing the entirety of their investment in the longer duration crops if they lose access to the land before the harvest. Migrants also engaged in fewer agricultural techniques to improve the soil quality than the in digenous farmers, planting some legumes and mounding plants, but ignoring crop rotations and fallow periods (Adjei Nsiah et al. 2004, 341). Adjei Nsiah et al. explain that although migrants have as much technical expertise in preserving soil fertility over time, the social arrangements forces them into poor management practices, resulting in lost productivity and a reduction in the welfare of both migrant farmers and the landowners from whom they rent ( 2004, 344). The traditional land tenure system shows a stark difference between indigenous and migrant groups in access and use of land. Migrants have more difficulty acquiring land and generally end up in less favorable situations like sharecropping or renting, if they are not participating in taungya plant ation systems. As a result, migrants tend to


23 misuse the land and degrade soil through poor management practices. While the inefficiencies of traditional land tenure systems do not appear particularly harmful for indigenous growers, migrants suffer greatly from it and the natural resources suffer as well. Migrants are not the only disadvantaged demographic within in the traditional land tenure system; women have weaker land tenure security and less access to land than men overall. Status of Women in Traditio nal Land Tenure Systems Gender inequality is an issue within traditional land tenure systems in Ghana. Women have a more difficult time acquiring and holding rights to land compared to men. Males are most often the benefactors of inheritances while females receive little wealth that is passed on from relatives. Women have a more difficult time acquiring land tenure rights and are less frequently able to benefit from labor expended on land maintenance. The disparity of gender rights between men and women is a serious issue for economic development in rural areas particularly because of the important role of women in development. Women can be expected to spend more of their income investing in the family and the well being of children, promoting a more produc tive future generation (Kevane 2004, 3) Additionally, population pressure should be reduced if women are given more authority over their economic situation ( Galor and Weil 1993, 19; Kevane 2004, 3) With slower population growth, limited capital can be us ed more efficiently and the quality of life should be improved (Galor and Weil 1993 19 ) Thus, gender inequality stemming from traditional land tenure systems can limit economic development. Some studies have


24 been conducted which highlight the gender ineq uality generated by traditional land tenure systems in Ghana, showing clear deficiencies of the customary systems. Quisumbing, Payongayong, Aidoo, and Otsuka (2001) studied gender inequality of land tenure institutions in Western Ghana through surveying me mbers of 60 villages. A dominant method of land acquisition is clearing forest land, which as a male activity excludes women from access to land (Quisumbing, Payongayong, Aidoo, and Otsuka 2001, 170). Land can also be acquired through investing in cocoa tr ee planting, but women are disadvantaged because they must plant a larger proportion of trees than men to get the land (Quisumbing, Payongayong, Aidoo, and Otsuka 2001, 176). Women have less access than men to other agricultural inputs and have more domest ic responsibilities, leaving them with more barriers to productive land use. The authors explain that "attempts to equalize the land rights of men and women are unlikely to lead to gender equity and improved efficiency and productivity of women farmers unl ess other constraints faced by women are also addressed (Quisumbing, Payongayong, Aidoo, and Otsuka 2001, 177 ). Goldstein and Udry (2008) studied the microeconomic aspects of property rights in Akwapim, Ghana. They found that women achieved far lower prof its than men in cassava and maize production (Goldstein and Udry 2008, 995). The lower productivity women face compared to men is the result of a number of factors. Women have access to lower quality land than men and women have less secure land tenure, so they cannot afford to let land fallow and recover from nutrient loss (Goldstein and Udry 2008, 1017). T hey argue that t he traditional land tenure system encouraged poor land management techniques, resulting in land degradation and lower productivity. Thei r findings support


25 the idea that traditional land tenure systems are unproductive due to gender inequality. Women directly suffer from having weaker property rights than men and the entire community is harmed. Yiridoe and Anchirinah researched land tenure of small scale home gardens in Ghana. The authors defined home garden systems as "various types of nonconventional or nonfield agricultural production" (Yiridoe and Anchirinah 2005, 169). They conducted a survey in three areas, one each from the Sudan sav annah, the Guinea savannah, and the high forest zone (Yiridoe and Anchirinah 2005, 170). Females made up only 27% of garden producers, showing a wide gender gap because of limited access to quality land (Yiridoe and Anchirinah 2005, 171). Women made up a s ignificantly smaller portion of agricultural producers in the study, meaning that they have less economic control and are economically dependent upon their husbands or male family members. Based upon studies of gender inequality in Ghana, it is clear that the traditional land tenure system directly limits the ability of women to control their economic destiny. Without stronger property rights and equitable treatment for women in society, Ghana's potential for development is unlikely to be completely realiz e d. The current system is clearly deficient along gender lines, but that deficiency does not directly point to more individualized property rights as the solution. Greater privatization of land rights could "strengthen [men's] land rights at women's expen se" because privatization may solidify the advantage men already hold over women (Quisumbing, Payongayong, Aidoo, and Otsuka 2001, 117). The disparity between men and women could hold or widen if the land tenure system is reformed to be more market oriente d, as men with the rights to land


26 c ould maintain them and women with few rights to land could lose what rights they had previously held. Conclusion Most research focusing on interviews and evaluations of land tenure systems in Ghana sugge s t s a beneficial o r neutral nature of the traditional land use systems and the importance of other factors limiting agricultural production in Ghana (Abdulai and Ndekugri 2008; Bugri 2008; Place and Hazell 1993; Adjei Nsiah et al. 2003) Farmers hold more faith in the secur ity of land tenure under traditional systems than statutory rights to land (Bugri 2008) Diminishing agricultural productivity and diminishing soil fertility result from an absence of capital and technology (Place and Hazell 1993). Poor education for small holders also limi t s agricultural productivity, as misconceptions about soil management are widespread (Adjei Nsiah et al. 2003). Rather than focus on altering the land tenure institutions in Ghana, these authors argue that investing resources into agricult ural inputs and education on soil management can have a much larger effect on agricultural productivity (Place and Hazell 1993; Adjei Nsiah et al. 2003). The losses in productivity predicted by economic theory are not evidenced by most research on the grou nd, instead inadequate edu cation and inputs are to blame (Place and Hazell 1993; Adjei Nsiah et al. 2003) Despite most research showing little connection between productivity and land tenure in Ghana, so me scholars claim that traditional land tenure limit s the agricultural sector. According to Zhang and Owiredu (2007) and Besley (1995), increased indiv idualization of property rights result s in a more productive agricultural sector in Ghana. The regression Zhang and Owiredu performed show ed a statistically significant


27 relationship between land tenure and investment (Zhang and Owiredu 2007 609) Besley conducted regressions for two areas in Ghana, one which showed a relationship between land tenure and investment and another which did not show any relationsh ip (Besley 1995). Though these authors claim that land tenure is related to investments in the land, this research is in the minority and does not convincingly prove a relationship. While land tenure does not appear to negatively a ffect production for the general population, it appears to change behavior of the more vulnerable members of the community. Communal land tenure systems create perverse incentives for migrants (Afikorah Danquah 1997; Adjei Nsiah et al. 2003). Since migrants have low tenure securi ty, they focus cultivation practices on short term yields rather than the sustainability of their yields. Activities that enhance the soil quality and increase future i ncome streams are not promoted because these individuals suffer from insecure land tenu re (Afikorah Danquah 1997, 43) Farmers may not invest as heavily into improving the soil quality of their land because the benefits of improved soil are less likely to be felt by the farmer contributing to the soil. Fallowing the land, the most common man agement practice to improve soil fertility, is discouraged for migrants and women because they face a larger risk of losing the land while it is under fallow (Afikorah Danquah 1997, 43; Goldstein and Udry 2008, 1017). T raditional land tenure reduces the im plementation of sustainable land use practices by the more vulnerable groups in society. While the traditio nal land tenure systems suffer from problems of inequality for migrants and women a more individualized tenure system would not necessarily remedy those problems. Individualized land tenur e could suffer from similar issues as indigenous men will retain the land rights they hold while migrants and women may lose what rights


28 they have under the traditional system (Quisumbing, Payongayong, Aidoo, and Ot suka 2001, 117) Cultural norms cause the inequalities seen in the traditional system. Whatever the form of land rights followed, it can be expected tha t women and migrants will suffer with smaller and less fertile plots of land Innovative policy solutio ns like modified taungya can improve access to land for women and migrants in rural communities (Agyeman et al. 2003). Rather than overhaul the traditional land tenure system, policies like modified taungya can have a quicker and more direct impact on agri cultural production. Since women and migrants who are cultivating land under modified taungya have incentives to properly tend the trees and manage the soil, common property problems are avoided (Opoku Boamah and Sato 2010, 188). The modified taungya syste m approaches problems of poor land management and unequal access to land in an innovative way. The dynamics of land tenure and agricultural productivity play an important role in development policy. Traditional land tenure systems are imperfect, but their deficiencies are not as pronounced as opponents claim. As the context of Ghana shows, more produ ctive agriculture is feasible under traditional land tenure. If development practitioners focus efforts on increasing the opportunities for farmers to invest i n the land, sustainable land management will be possible


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