Joined-up governance for more complementary interactions between expanding artisanal small-scale gold mining and agriculture: insights from Ghana

Enoch Adranyi*, Lindsay Carman Stringer, Henrice Altink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rising gold prices have led artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) operations to proliferate in sub-Saharan Africa, extending into agricultural areas. Little is known about the interactions between agriculture and mining in these new frontiers. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of ASGM on natural and physical livelihood capitals, ASGM’s interactions with agriculture at household, community and institutional levels and the drivers underpinning those interactions, and the policy implications for the co-existence of sustainable agriculture and ASGM. Alongside literature review, field-work took place in Atiwa West District and Koforidua, Ghana using environmental field surveys, questionnaires, focus group discussions and interviews. Questionnaire and field survey data were analysed using descriptive statistics, with thematic analysis of interviews and focus group data. Findings revealed that most miners were unregulated, mined irresponsibly and degraded land, waterways, and farm roads. Over one-third of farmers (38%) suffered land degradation, and 79% of affected farmers’ lands were not reclaimed. Farmers diversified into ASGM, and mining proceeds boosted farming. Young farmers (18–40 years) shifted into ASGM full-time because it is more lucrative. Yet, ASGM is not replacing agriculture: cocoa farming remains a vital economic activity. Informal ASGM generates short-term income at household level for some but imposes long-term costs at community level, linked to cumulative loss of agricultural land and degradation of forest areas and water bodies, creating tensions, and increasing vulnerability. Financial hardships faced by farmers, landowners’ desire to benefit directly from gold and lack of law enforcement drive informal ASGM. There are no institutional linkages between the agricultural and mining sectors. More joined up governance across agriculture and mining is needed and between formal and informal (traditional) institutions. ASGM should be incorporated into broader rural development policy reforms that support farmers, incentivise miners to operate legally and responsibly and ensure effective stakeholder engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0298392
Number of pages27
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2024


  • small-scale goldmining
  • environment
  • Ghana
  • extractive industry
  • Livelihoods

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