Spotlight on Ghana’s Radio1: Digging deeper into mining industry’s impacts on farmers

| December 18, 2017

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When Victoria Korkor and Emmanuel Asamoah of Ghana’s Radio1 look at the big picture, they worry about Ghana’s ability to sustainably feed its people through agriculture. In their region, they’ve identified two major challenges for small-scale farmers: loss of land to mining companies, and inadequate storage facilities.

Those two issues account for a big part of the news and farmer programming at Radio1, a privately owned radio station at Bunso Junction in Ghana’s Eastern Region. The station broadcasts Yen Agudie Yen Kro, or “Our Resources, Our Land,” a program focused on land rights, mining, resources, and environmental issues.

A second program, called Ghana Akuafo or “The Ghanaian Farmer,” is the station’s main agriculture program.

Mr. Asamoah explains: “Most of the communities have lost their main source of revenue: farming. They have lost by either selling the farmlands or by compulsory acquisition by these miners. But these mining activities are not sustainable and they have lost the farmlands, making food very expensive in these areas.”

In interviews with Radio1 journalists, many farmers say mining companies took over their fields and began digging without asking permission or offering compensation. Other farmers felt pressured to sell their land, and later regretted their decision when they were no longer able to make a living.

Ms. Korkor recalls some of the interviews her team conducted on the subject: “When you look at a farmer like Kwame Seaman at Akyem Nsutam, he lost his five acres of land after toiling and tilling it until it was ready for harvest, to a mining company…. Not forgetting Madam Rita of Abomosu whose land was forcefully taken from her after she went to mourn her brother. According to her, she came back from her brother’s funeral only to meet those miners working on her farmland; and her ten acres of cocoa she had inherited from her father [were] gone, just like that.”

Stories like these motivate Ms. Korkor and her colleagues at Radio1 to dig deeper into the impacts of mining on local farmers. For example, they see a link between many farmers’ lack of storage facilities and the loss of land to mining.

Mr. Asamoah explains: “For instance, Ebenezer Nyame harvested about 30 bags of cocoa and other food crops and after some weeks was only able to [use] 17 bags, due to the lack of storage facilities. At the end of the day, he had no option than to sell his land to miners and use the money to start a business.”

Ms. Korkor and Mr. Asamoah work hard to explore these issues on their radio shows, sharing farmers’ voices on air and discussing potential solutions.

They also investigate how mining affects the environment and human health, covering issues such as contamination of the water supply. And they report on policy developments such as the government’s ban on small-scale mining, which is part of an effort to end illegal mining.

For the two journalists, it’s about more than covering the news. It’s also about doing what they can to ensure long-term food security in their region by supporting and encouraging small-scale farmers.

Mr. Asamoah adds: “The effect is very clear that there is a scarcity of food in these communities; and even when you get the food, it is very expensive. The youth are also not interested in farming activities since they are able to make quick money from mining.”