When the day starts, many of the residents in the village of Swedru-Akyease a farming community in the Eastern region of Ghana are faced with a long day on their farms. There are no businesses in this village. Some of the women are involved in petty trade; the sale cooking oil, fish and a few other food stuffs.
The people grow most of the food they eat and trade the rest of their produce off in exchange for cash.
But some of these farmers especially the female ones are not able to make any profit on their produce because they are faced with the duty of settling the difference in the lease agreements of the farmlands they rent.
Akua Boh is one of these women. As a common practice, Akua is confronted with the task of having to split her farm produce into two halves at the end of every harvest season. One half for her family and the other half for her landlord.
“It is usually the most painful part of the farming season. I cultivate the land, grow my produce, I do all the weeding by myself although sometimes with help from my children and simply because I am renting the land I always have to lose a good portion of my hard work to the landlord” Akua says in her local dialect Fante.
Akua is a mother of seven Children. When she had her first child 16 years ago, she wanted to give her the best so decided to support her husband in taking care of their needs.
“I spoke to my uncle who had a big farmland to give me one plot so I could farm but he said he could only rent it to me. That land belonged to my grandfather but because it was will to the male children, my mother did not have any plot of her own to pass on to me”.
She said she took the land and agreed to be making monthly payments of cash to her uncle. Akua paid three hundred old Ghana Cedis which is now thirty Pesewas every month until she got pregnant again and started defaulting in her payments. Her uncle threw her off the land and rented it out to a different farmer.Haven worked on rented farm lands for well over sixteen years, Akua wants to buy her own land but she is not able to raise enough money to do so.
“All the years I have worked I could not save. My crops don’t grow well because the lands I get to rent are usually not fertile”She said she could not fulfill the terms of hiring a good land. “Those lands closer to the village are fertile but very, very expensive. I have school fees to pay so if I want to hire one of those, my children will have to stop going to school”.
Her eldest child, Abena Ntorinkansa often helps her mother on the farm. A second year Junior high school student, Abena’s long shift on the farm starts when the school day ends and teenagers rush home to a free afternoon.
“I am used to it. My mother’s farm is our only source of livelihood so I have to help her”. Abena says she wished her mum didn’t have to share her harvest with anyone. “My mum says she wants to buy her own land but I don’t see that happening soon. All the lands are expensive and we don’t have any money”.
But Akua Boh is hopeful. She says she is considering joining forces with a friend who wants to stop renting farmlands too.
“Right now, the lands cost thousand Ghana Cedis and more for one plot in our village.
“If I bring two hundred and fifty Cedis and my friend brings two hundred and fifty Cedis we can buy half a plot of land which we can manage till we get enough money to buy our individual lands. Right now, i can’t raise five hundred Ghana Cedis on my own to buy that half a plot”
Source: Juanita Sallah/quest.com.gh