Business News of 2014-08-08

Farmers fight Mahama over Aveyime rice project

Attempts by the government of John Dramani Mahama to convert a cattle ranch project in the North Tongu town of Battor-Aveyime into a rice farm is creating intense tension between government and indigenous-landowners of the area.

The decision to convert the age-old livestock project into a rice project according to government is because the production of cattle is no longer a viable venture in the area.

The cause of the uneasy calm, Today gathered, is as a result of the inability of government to contact the indigenous landowners before arriving at the decision to diversify the cattle ranch into the rice project.

The issue, sources indicate is of great importance to the leadership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the North Tongu District especially as the constituency has become the electoral ‘world bank’ of the party which has seen its fortunes changed by results from the area.

The inability on the part of the government to do so has led residents to question the reason behind the move of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and whom it intends to please.

Some of the landowners who spoke to the paper claimed they did not want to believe that the inability of government to pay compensation for the 10,000 hectares of land for the establishment of the livestock project in 1973 was the reason for ignoring them.

According to the indigenous landowners, in the 1970s, the landowners were never compensated for the acquisition of the land that belonged to the Carmicheal family.

Despite not receiving compensation, the farmers claimed they overheard government through the sector ministry had “nicodemously” paid a whopping US$ 2.4million as compensation to the Carmicheal family in January 6, 2009.

But they, the old and weak farmers whose farmlands were taking were never left out of the compensation payment and efforts aimed at getting the government to do so hit a snag.

Consequently, the indigenous landowners numbering about one hundred and forty (140), Today learnt are threatening to institute legal action against the government if it converts the cattle ranch project into a rice farm without paying compensation to them.

They expressed shock over the startling revelation by Director of Legal Affairs at MoFA, Mr. Seth Mensah Dumoga to drop the hint on how compensation was being paid to Carmicheal family in relation to the Aveyime Cattle Ranch when he appeared at the Judgement Debts Commission in Accra on Thursday July 17, 2014.

According to Mr. Dumoga, “the family of Carmichael, put in claims for compensation in the 1970s but the family was finally paid $2.4 million as compensation under a certificate of urgency on January 6,2009, leaving out the indigenous landowners, (no compensation paid to them.”)

However, the landowners who got wind of the payment compensation package to Carmicheal family got angry and therefore threatened to destroy any attempt by government to start new rice farm project in Aveyime if it fails to fulfill its promise of paying compensation to them.

According to them, President Mahama and his NDC in their various platforms always re-echoed their preparedness to convert the cattle ranch project at Aveyime into a rice farm but has refused to devise measures to address the issue of land compensation promised indigenous landowners who “were left off-the-hook.”

“Government of Ghana for some time now has taken us for granted by making disparaging remarks about us and it always claims that we do not deserve to be compensated because they (government) did not recognise us as indigenous owners of the land.

“…so this time round we would not sit idle for government to throw dust into our eyes again, we are waiting for government to dare start this project without paying our compensation and we shall show them that really we are the indigenous owners of that land ” some landowners who pleaded anonymity stressed.

Source: Today Newspaper
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