The Impact of Expanding Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM)…

… on Small Holder Agriculture in West Africa: A Case Study of Ghana

Artisanal and small-scale Mining (ASM) is expanding and has become a booming economic activity in rural communities whiles agriculture tussles to maintain its stake. This has brought ASM into direct and often fierce competition with smallholder farmers for land and labour resources. Buoyed by the rising prices of gold and other precious metals, lands under ASM activities have increased several-fold while the approach to mining has become more mechanized and destructive, threatening agricultural lands and polluting waterways and the environment.

The African Center for Economic Transformation, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, saw the need for in-depth knowledge and evidence on the incidence of ASM and to generate lessons and recommendations that would inform policy and regulatory reforms. This desire culminated in a three-country case study on “The Impact of Expanding Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) and Small Holder Agriculture in West Africa”. The case studies of Ghana, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso have been compiled into a synthesis report.

In addition to these studies, the project includes three country-level validation workshops. The first of the validation workshops was held in Accra, Ghana on 1st February 2017. The workshop brought together key stakeholders mainly consisting of policy makers and other representatives from government, civil society organizations and industry.

The Ghana study focused on Talensi in the Upper East Region and Prestea in the Western Region where ASM and cocoa production co-exist. The study revealed, among other things, that:

  • Agriculture and mining are heavily influenced by climatic conditions (particularly patterns and distribution of rainfall patterns);
  • Agriculture is more dominant in Upper East (employing more than 75% of labour) than Western (less than 50% of labour);
  • Agricultural workers dominate labour but growing number of youths are more oriented towards ASM than agriculture;
  • The negative impacts of ASM has led to a decline in capital resources or investments to the agricultural sector;
  • The decision whether or not to allow ASM depends on the level of threat it poses, the regulation of ASM in the locality, the type of ASM (surface or underground) and prospects of mining and agriculture.

The study highlighted that a ban on ASM activities will not necessarily unlock potential in the agricultural sector or deal with other challenges confronting the sector since most proceeds from ASM finance agriculture activities. This notwithstanding, ASM must not be allowed to continue unregulated.

Some recommendations given by stakeholders included the need for a national policy that clearly distinguishes between land areas demarcated for mining and farming; strengthening the capacity of regulatory bodies; and the need for traditional authorities and district assemblies to protect their lands and be held accountable for any unconstitutional leasing of land for illegal mining.

The second and third workshops are scheduled for 14th and 28th February, 2017 in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso respectively.

To access the full report, click on the link below.


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