Bathsheba Bryant-Tarpeh

Foreign Agricultural Investment, Food Security and Women’s Land Rights Issues in Ghana

Dissertation Summary

As women are the primary food producers in the developing world, my study examines the unique position of Ghanaian women and the gender issues that arise from foreign agricultural investment.  The research hypothesizes that large land acquisitions weaken women’s land tenure security and overall access to land and water sources for farming purposes.  I argue that the impact of large agricultural investments and the commercialization of the sector must take into account the role of women and their cultural, social, and economic link to land and food security.   Additionally, government policies, programs, and practices of foreign investors must be inclusive of women in order for such projects to be implemented in the most effective ways to reduce poverty and improve food security.

Some background to my research include the following: Since the global food crisis of 2007 and 2008, countries worldwide are trying to find other means to produce food and alternative energy sources, which has resulted in a surge of agricultural investment in developing countries, many taking place in Africa.  These large land investment schemes are made with the presumed intention to create jobs, increase income, infrastructure, and overall economic growth.  But who is truly benefiting from this recent influx of agricultural investment in Africa?  Many believe that it is foreign investors and governments that are making a profit and very few benefits are trickling down to the local people.  This is true for Ghana, a country on the West coast of Africa.  Ghana has proven to be a very fair and stable country and represents a model for other African nations.  Through the government of Ghana and traditional land authorities, foreign investors are leasing large amounts of arable land for the purpose of building commercial agricultural plantations, producing food and biofuels for export.  There are complaints from smallholder farmers that the government of Ghana is selling their land off to the foreign investors, leaving them with a fractured agricultural production system.


Bathsheba Bryant-Tarpeh is currently a doctoral student at Howard University in the Department of African Studies and Research in Washington, D.C.  Her research interests are women and gender issues, food security, and natural resource management in West Africa.  She received her Master’s degree from her current department in 2012.  Her Master’s thesis is titled “Challenges for Internally Displaced and Refugee Women in Gaining Access to Land for Food Security and Production in Post-Civil War Sierra Leone (2002-2011).”  Bathsheba became very passionate about women’s issues during her matriculation at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 2007.  She has interned at two leading non-governmental organizations in Washington, D.C., Africare and Vital Voices Global Partnership.  She also did a research traineeship to the Department of Political Science, African Studies at the University of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic in 2014.

Bathsheba talks about her work on the blog Nothing Stronger Than A Girl.