Originally appeared on Learn Liberty.
What if local people had secure rights to manage and benefit from the use of forests, or pastures, or farmland? What kind of entrepreneurial activities would we see?
In Ghana, a for-profit firm called LandMapp is “unlocking land’s value” by helping to secure farmer’s unofficial land rights. These farmers may have customary or traditional rights to their land, but in many cases these rights are not formally recognized.
The company uses GPS-enabled smart phones to map the boundaries of farmers’ plots. They verify boundary information with farmers and their neighbors, and then they provide farmers with documentation, at relatively low cost, of their land holdings.
With this verified and accurate information, farmers may be better able to access credit or contract with commodity firms to provide cacao or shea nuts. LandMapp is trying hard to do what African governments have difficulty doing: providing dependable mapping and surveying services and evidence of legitimate land rights claims at a reasonable cost to families and communities.