This study combined evidence from literature search, national-level data sources, survey, focus groups, interviews, and empirical findings (Trend Analysis, Simple Linear Regression and Correlation Analysis, with the use of SAS & SPSS software). The following research questions were addressed: (1) Is there trend relationship between mining and decline in crop production in Ghana? (2) Is mining threatening agriculture? (3) Is impoverishment among farmers within mining communities connected to surface mining? (4) How do farmers perceive or associate risk with surface mining practices? (5) Do socio-demographic factors matter in risk perceptions among farmers?
Using national-level data (1989 to 2007), agricultural growth through acreage expansion has not been seriously affected by expansion in area under mineral concession. Although trend relationship between area under mineral concession and decline in maize and cocoyam production is possible, there is no strong evidence to support the claim that mining is threatening crop production in Ghana. Therefore, the growing concern that mining is destroying agriculture can be described as a complex mix.
The claim that mining practices have worsened the livelihoods of small-scale farmers is a possibility. More than 80% cases of household farmers studied are likely to become more vulnerable to poverty. However, a combination of four principal factors - nature of land transactions; inadequate compensation; inability of farmers to invest in alternative livelihood enterprises, and disintegration of family structural dynamics are in operation.
Surface mining is perceived as having both positive and negative images in the minds of farmers. Depending on how the issue is presented and farmers’ socio-demographic differences, either positive or negative image may dominate. Farmers are more likely to: link livelihood to the preservation of environmental resources; see mining as a threat to environmental resources, institutions, participatory processes, socio-cultural fiber of the community and a promoter of rural poverty. However, most farmers are likely to perceive mining as an agent of economic growth and rural development.
This research is proposing a “Sustainable Compensation & Livelihood Model” for consideration, which adopts three instruments – Cost Assessment Approach; Shareholder Approach; and Legislative Approach to sustainable livelihood, and is intended to promote policy dialogue among stakeholders.
Keywords. Surface Mining, Agriculture, Sustainable Livelihood, Risk Perceptions, Socio-demographics, Ghana.