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International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759

Volume 25, Issue 2 (2019)

Expanding Cashew Nut Exporting from Ghana’s Breadbasket:

A Political Ecology of Changing Land Access and Use, and Impacts for Local Food Systems                                152-172

Authors: James Boafo and Kristen Lyons

Affiliations: School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Australia

Abstract            PDF


The Brong Ahafo region supplies most of Ghana’s staple foods and is often described as the ‘breadbasket’ of Ghana. Despite the important role of this region in the provision of local food, farmers are shifting towards the cultivation of cashew nuts for export. The increasing production of cashew for export is driven by multiple factors across scale; including historical legacy of export-led agriculture, increasing global demand for cashew nuts, and a number of local level socio-cultural factors. While farmers may benefit from cashew production, the conversion of land into production of cashew poses local level socio-cultural and economic challenges. In this paper, we adopt a critical perspective through the lens of political ecology to demonstrate how the transition towards the production of cashew is driving land accumulation, social differentiation, alongside a decline in access to land for local food provisioning. Through the use of a range of qualitative methods, including interviews, focus group discussions, observation and policy document analysis, this paper reports on in-depth data collected from cashew farmers and local agricultural actors in the Brong Ahafo region. Findings demonstrate that cashew production is transforming land tenure relations through individualisation, alongside the acquisition of communal land for cashew cultivation. In particular, the acquisition of land by local elites, and alongside the increasing conversion of family land into cashew production, is changing existing social and land tenure relations, with profound outcomes for migrant farmers and local food provisioning. We conclude there is an urgent need for agricultural policies to consider these impacts of export-led cashew production for land tenure and local food security.

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