Land Grabbing, Social Differentiation, Intensified Migration and Food Security in Northern Ghana


Nyantakyi-Frimpong, Hanson, and Rachel Bezner Kerr. 2017. “Land Grabbing, Social Differentiation, Intensified Migration and Food Security in Northern Ghana.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 44 (2): 421-44.

Authors: Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong, Rachel Bezner Kerr


This paper argues that large-scale land appropriation is displacing subsistence farmers and reworking agrarian social relations in northern Ghana. The recent wave of farmland enclosure has not only resulted in heightened land scarcity, but also fostered a marked social differentiation within farming communities. The dominant form of inequality is an evolving class of landless and near-landless farmers. The majority of households cope with such dynamics by deepening their own self-exploitation in the production process. The fulcrum of this self-exploitation is gendered property rights as part of the conjugal contract, with men exerting a far greater monopoly over land resources than had previously been the case. Due to acute land shortages, women’s rights to use land as wives, mothers and daughters are becoming insecure, as their vegetable plots are being reclassified as male-controlled household fields. The paper further documents the painful choices that landless farmers have to make in order to meet livelihood needs, including highly disciplined, yet low-waged, farm labor work and sharecropping contracts. In these livelihood pathways, there emerge, again, exploitative relations of production, whereby surplus is expropriated from land- dispossessed migrant laborers and concentrated with farm owners. These dynamics produce a ‘simple reproduction squeeze’ for the land-dispossessed. Overall, the paper contributes to the emerging land grabbing literature by showing geographically specific processes of change for large-scale mining operations and gendered differentiated impacts. 

Keywords: land grabbing, gender relations, peasant class differentiation, food security, Ghana

Topics: Agriculture, Gender, Households, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana

Year: 2017

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