By Juliet AGUIAR, Adum Banso

The Catchment Areas Farmers Association in the Western Region is calling on the Minerals Commission, the Ministry of Lands and Forestry, and the Chamber of Mines to establish transparent and scientific rules and procedures for the determination and payment of compensation to farmers affected by the activities of mining companies.

The Association has also called for alternative livelihood arrangements to support such farmers.

According to the Association, a study by Cesult Consult Service in 30 mining communities in the Western Region has found that the policy for determining the value of crops and farms affected by mining is not transparent and scientific enough.

Farmers spend fortunes to establish their farms but receive little compensation after their farms have been displaced by mining activities, leading to the loss of property and revenue, it said.
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The Minerals and Mining Act of Ghana has provisions to guide the payment of compensation to persons displaced by mining operations so as to ensure fairness and the adequacy of the compensation.

However, the Act has been criticised for some weaknesses in the provisions.

Mr. Raphael Kwasi Fordah, Chairman of the Association, in an interview with B&FT explained that there is no universal model on what could be accepted as adequate paid compensation.

He said the study by Cesult found that gold mining activities have since the late 1980s been the major cause of displacement of people, who are politically weak compared with mining companies that have the support of governments and politicians.

?The study revealed that majority of the respondents did not have a strong educational background which could have aided them in any meaningful negotiation with their richer claimants. Given their educational background ? middle school certificate holders ? it is apparent that outside interference may have crept into negotiations with their richer claimants.?

He said institutions such as the Lands Valuation Board must be encouraged to institute valuation mechanisms that will guarantee the appropriate values of both tangible and intangibles assets of individuals and communities in matters of expropriation by richer claimants.

He pointed out that whereas there are no strong expropriation laws in Ghana, the expropriation laws of India, for example, have explicit models to facilitate the payment of compensation where necessary.

?These expropriation models could be borrowed into the ones operational in Ghana to ensure fair and adequate paid compensation,? he said.

Besides being the only medium by which conflicts arising from involuntary displacement and resettlement could be resolved, adequate paid compensation could enhance the opportunities of individuals and communities to improve their standard of living ? by increasing their degree of access to social infrastructure such as quality education, health care, water and sanitation.

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