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Abusa: the structural history of an economic contract

by Robertson, A.F.
Publisher: 1982Subject(s): INDUSTRIA CACAOTERA | ESTRUCTURA DE LA PRODUCCION | UTILIZACION DE LA TIERRA | CONDICIONES SOCIALES | SITUACION ECONOMICA | MANO DE OBRA | TENENCIA | AGRICULTURA CONTRACTUAL | GHANA | COCOA INDUSTRY | PRODUCTION STRUCTURE | LAND USE | SOCIAL CONDITIONS | ECONOMIC SITUATION | MANPOWER | TENURE | CONTRACT FARMING | GHANA | INDUSTRIE DU CACAO | STRUCTURE DE PRODUCTION | UTILISATION DES TERRES | CONDITION SOCIALE | SITUATION ECONOMIQUE | MAIN D'OEUVRE | MODE DE FAIRE VALOIR | AGRICULTURE CONTRACTUELLE | GHANA In: Journal of Developmental Studies (RU) v. 18(4) p. 447-478Summary: This speculative essay seeks an interpretation of abusa, a share cropping arrangement which has been of fundamental importance in the development of the Ghanaian cocoa industry. According to theoretical expectations, such an arrangement is both inefficient and inequitable, a 'pre-modern' or 'pre-capitalist' productive relationship which will inevitable yield to a pattern of fixed rents and wage labour. Her, the role of abusa in the spectacular growth of the cocoa economy and in its recent decline is examined with reference to the development of individual contracts. It is argued that this 'ontogenetic' development of abusa is structured by the changing domestic circunstances of farm owner and farm worker; their competing interests in a maturing cocoa farm are negotiated and expressed in a sequence of contractual arrangements which gives the worker increasing access to the land and the product of this own labour. It is suggested that if the evolution of productive relations towards more evidently capitalist forms has been slow and uncertain, this is largely because social processes of the kind manifest in the individual abusa contract develop in what is effectively a contrary direction. List(s) this item appears in: Cultivo de cacao | Cacao
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++ Bib. p. 474-478

This speculative essay seeks an interpretation of abusa, a share cropping arrangement which has been of fundamental importance in the development of the Ghanaian cocoa industry. According to theoretical expectations, such an arrangement is both inefficient and inequitable, a 'pre-modern' or 'pre-capitalist' productive relationship which will inevitable yield to a pattern of fixed rents and wage labour. Her, the role of abusa in the spectacular growth of the cocoa economy and in its recent decline is examined with reference to the development of individual contracts. It is argued that this 'ontogenetic' development of abusa is structured by the changing domestic circunstances of farm owner and farm worker; their competing interests in a maturing cocoa farm are negotiated and expressed in a sequence of contractual arrangements which gives the worker increasing access to the land and the product of this own labour. It is suggested that if the evolution of productive relations towards more evidently capitalist forms has been slow and uncertain, this is largely because social processes of the kind manifest in the individual abusa contract develop in what is effectively a contrary direction.

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