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Shifts in the landscape: increased pressure on rural land and livelihoods in Ghana

In Ghana 70 per cent of the population are smallholder farmers who depend on the land for their basic needs. Growing competition for this resource is having significant impacts on rural livelihoods and land governance. A recent study by Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) highlights the key drivers of pressure on rural land, including population growth, urbanisation and acquisition of land by new actors including government and business. It shows how, in this new context, rural communities are changing how they access and manage land: shifting from customary to more commercial systems; farming smaller plots of land; and renegotiating access to common resources, such as grazing land. This in turn is influencing crop choices and livelihoods. This briefing explores some of these changes in the rural landscape. As Ghana is currently in the process of consolidating a number of land related laws into a single Lands Act, there is an opportunity for the government to address some of the challenges highlighted in this research.

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Land is central to livelihoods, culture and identity for millions of people across the developing world. But there is growing concern that people's connection to their land is being undermined, due to large-scale land deals for agricultural investments in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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