Agric Minister inaugurates committee to take lands stock
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has inaugurated a nine-member committee to take stock of lands belonging to the ministry.
The decision follows unbridled and pervasive encroachment of lands belonging to the ministry across the country.
The nine-member committee, chaired by a private legal practitioner, Julius Opoku Agyei, is tasked with the responsibility of identifying and documenting all encroached lands.
Other members of the committee include a Member of Parliament, Andy Appiah Kubi; ASP Peter Sarfo Antwi of the Police Service, and Nana Yaa Nartey of the Ministry of Works and Housing.
The rest are William Arthur of MoFA; Winifred Kuma Apaw, member; Paul Siameh, also of MoFA; Clemence Gyato of ANYNOK Holdings Ltd, and a yet-to-be-named representative from the Lands Commission.
Terms of reference
The committee is also to investigate the extent of encroachment of the lands identified and to identify encroachers, whether individuals, organisations or some other entities.
The committee is also to evaluate the environmental, social and economic impacts of the encroachment, as well as gathering evidence related to the encroachment.
It is also to propose appropriate deterrent and remedial action to address the encroachment and prevent future cases; consider relevant legal, social and environmental factors, as well as prepare and submit report on findings, recommendations and proposed actions.
Inaugurating the committee, the sector Minister, Dr Bryan Acheampong, said since assuming office some four months ago, “the fast-eroding land area belonging to the ministry across the country has emerged as one of the biggest challenges I have to confront”.
He said he was convinced that if nothing was done quickly to salvage the situation, all agric lands set aside for strategic purposes would be lost to other interests.
“As a ministry, we cannot sit unconcerned to allow this to happen, especially when these lands can be put to productive use to serve the purpose for which they were intended, contrary to what some may think.
“Based on this conviction, I have decided to constitute this committee to take stock of agric lands as a first step in our mission to protect this vital asset of the ministry,” Dr Acheampong said.
He said reports from all over the country suggested that virtually all government agricultural facilities on the country’s lands had lost some part of their original land area through rapid encroachment.
“The facilities include the establishment of breeding centres, training institutions, state farms, research stations and mechanisation centres, to name but a few,” he said.
The minister said the committee had the authority to access relevant records, documents and information to facilitate its work, and was expected to complete its task and submit a final report within three months after its inauguration.
He said the committee was expected to provide interim progress reports periodically and update the minister on its activities.
Dr Acheampong said the committee, drawn from different backgrounds, would bring their extensive experience and expertise to bear on the work of the committee as set out in its terms of reference.
Responding, Mr Agyei thanked the minister for the confidence reposed in the members and gave the assurance that “we will work hard to achieve the purpose for which we have been constituted”.
He pledged, on behalf of the committee, their commitment to work to deliver on their mandate.