Farming within a dual legal land system

An argument for emancipatory food systems planning in Accra, Ghana

Land Use Policy Journal cover.

Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, and Samina Raja professor of urban and regional planning, join James Sumberg in examining how Ghana’s dual legal land system affects urban farmers

Contestation over land is a central element of urban food systems. Situated within the “emancipatory planning” discourse, the paper investigates how farmers navigate customary and statutory land rules using tactics that include compliance, opposition and adaptation. Based on field work conducted in urban and peri-urban areas of Accra, the study demonstrates that farmers access land by working around, outside, and within the rules of the dual legal land system. The landowners on whom urban farmers depend also both comply with and violate these same rules. This system perpetuates inequities. Food systems policy and planning must address the structural and systemic inequities that are reinforced by the rules of the land game. The paper concludes with some reflections on how local and national policy and planning can do a better job in supporting urban food production in contexts characterized by complex, dual legal land systems.


Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, Assistant Professor
Samina Raja, Professor
Department of Urban and Regional Planning

James Sumberg
Institute of Development Studies


Land Use Policy

Date Published