By Christine Okali and James Sumberg
This paper uses an example of small-scale, labour-intensive tomato production that is expected to lead to short-term capital accumulation to explore the prospects of engaging rural youth in the agri-food sector in Africa. The data cover one village, Pamdu, located in Brong Ahafo, Ghana where the authors completed their main research in1998/9 and a brief revisit in 2011.
Although tomatoes were produced by men and women of all ages, a significant proportion of young men specialised entirely in tomato production, growing three crops per year, and they dominated dry season production called ‘petera’. Tomato production met their short term capital needs for home building, marriage, business development and adventure. Young women also engaged in tomato production although not frequently as ‘three croppers’. They used other income sources such as trade to meet their own capital needs that often mirrored those of the young men. Older farmers who might continue to grow tomatoes had a larger repertoire of crops. On our brief return visit to Pamdu in 2011, we resumed conversations with a sample of the young people who had participated in our earlier work, to check on our earlier hypotheses concerning the different patterns of engagement in agriculture, and to throw light on the way in which agriculture had enabled them achieve their earlier life and work objectives. For our analysis, we adopt a theoretical approach that can be described as social relational – one that views income earning decisions of individuals and families in the context of their social lives as a whole, thus focusing on inter-dependency and linked lives, and life course analysis that highlights shifts that have implications for the changing way people engage in agriculture, rather than assuming that ‘one size fits all at all times’.File: Okali & Sumberg, Quick money and power.pdf