Rice, cows and envy: agriculture and change among young rice producers in Guinea-Bissau

Working Paper 86
Manuel Bivar and Marina Padrão Temudo

In Guinea-Bissau, a country on the West African coast between Senegal, the Republic of Guinea and the Atlantic, rice is the staple food. During the past three decades, agriculture in Guinea- Bissau has undergone a radical transformation. In Guinea-Bissau, there is a common discourse that young people have abandoned the fields and migrated to the city. A process of ‘depeasantization’ has been described, which implies a decline in the time spent working in agriculture, in the income earned from agriculture and in household coherence as a labour unit, leading to rural out-migration. However, the ethnography of the Balanta-Nhacra rural world presented in this paper suggests a process which is far more complex. When we analyse processes of ‘depeasantization’ in the African context, structural factors must also be taken into account.


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