The Journal of Modern African Studies

Is deagrarianisation real? A study of livelihood activities in rural northern Ghana

Joseph Awetori Yaro a1
a1 Department of Human Geography, University of Oslo.

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This article examines the livelihoods, portfolios and degree of deagrarianisation of the peasantry in three villages in northern Ghana. It argues that deagrarianisation should be seen as a process embedded in social change, bearing in mind the reversibility between farm and non-farm livelihood strategies used by households (reagrarianisation?). A livelihoods research approach involving qualitative household interviews and quantitative surveys in three villages in the Kassena-Nankani district constitute primary data for this study. Contrary to the deagrarianisation thesis, this study found that livelihood adaptation, implying both a diversification to new or secondary livelihood activities and changing the form, nature and content of the farm sector, characterised rural livelihoods in the area. The adaptation process involves not just a move from the farm to the non-farm sector, but also an intensification of efforts in the farm sector with seasonal diversification into other livelihood activities. The supposedly ‘booming non-farm sector’ is not entirely real, for reasons of marginalisation and exclusion of the poor peasantry, resulting from spatial, capital, infrastructural and market limitations.

(Published Online February 6 2006)