Land Deals, Wage Labour, and Everyday Politics
2. Capital Accumulation, Rural Class Differentiation and Adverse Incorporation
2.1. Every Day Politics
2.2. The Herakles-Volta Red Oil Palm Land Deal: Methods of Data Gathering and Analyses
3. Class and Demographic Characteristics of Farmworkers
3.1. A Gendered Division of Labour
3.2. Adverse Incorporation: Precarious Labour and ‘Weakening’5 Bodies
‘My work is undefined. I am a casual worker, an operator and a driver. Sometimes they move me to join the oil palm processing mill workers, sometimes I transport firewood. If I am on the farm and there is a problem with the truck, my supervisors ask me to join the loading gang or do slashing’.
‘You see, this truck has no starter and no break. The steering wheel is poorly aligned and you can see that manifest in the front wheels. I have to start it in third gear and bring it to a halt in the fourth gear. Experience is the best teacher over here′.
‘they don’t pick us home on time, why won′t we have malaria? However, when you get malaria, they say that it is not a farm work-related disease, so you do not get a medical form’.
‘Every employee wants to see progress in their lives, but this is not the case on the plantation. The conditions are not good, and they sometimes do not respect our views because we are uneducated and casually employed. We worked hard on the plantation because we were sensitised about the positive effects on our communities, but if they could not cater for the he welfare of workers, how much more entire communities? For most of the people who remain farmworkers to date, they are there out of desperation′.
3.3. ‘We Have Become Surplus Labour’: Class Consciousness and Everyday Resistance
‘We have become surplus10 to them, if you die the job will continue’.
3.3.1. Deception, and Non-Compliance
‘We do not have hand gloves for pruning, so sometimes, I also do a shoddy work. My supervisors expect me to collect the branches and pack them at specified locations so that they do not hamper the work of slashers. Yet without gloves, I cannot work fast and I often finish work with injuries to my palm. So sometimes I do not collect the branches. They cannot monitor everyone, they cannot tell who did it, unfortunately, this affects the slashers too′.
‘if you work below your target and do nothing the rest of your time, they [supervisors] won’t say anything, but they won’t allow you to leave before 2:00 p.m. even in the off-peak seasons for harvesting. If you do so, you will not be marked’.
‘A worker will call to inform you of their inability to come to work because of ill health—when you know very well he is telling lies, but you can’t do anything about it. After the 20th12, you can confer that, in our attendance sheets, many people absent themselves to do ‘jobs′. Such attitudes affect us very much. For example, it reduces productivity especially when they do not inform us in time because of their anger’.
‘Sometimes when I’m sick of feverishness, I do not report that. I know the clinics in our communities do not have adequate capacity to detect all illness, so I complain of severe chest or neck pains which is directly related to harvesting. When I do that, I can get medical cover and also convince the medical officer to get me an excuse duty note for about 3 days, during this period I can rest, and also receive my daily wage’.
‘we are just hustling for them. I don’t want to becomean enemy so I have stopped complaining’.
Adwoa is a 51-year-old woman who has worked for nine years on the plantation. She is migrant, landless and has been divorced for seven years. She and her former husband had a lot of farm land in their hometown. They even had eight acres of oil palm and she intercropped vegetables. In the early 2000s when they heard of the PSI, they moved to a village in the Eastern Region to work at the nurseries. In the meantime, they left their crops in the hands of family members and that did not work out well. At the same time, her husband had refused to cater for their five daughters under the perception that girls will not bring any wealth to him in future, but rather to their husbands: a reason for their divorce. She has been working all these years to take care of the children’s education. Although she has been a permanent worker upon recruitment, she complains ‘the work is tedious, but if you are not educated do not have any other tradeable skill, what do you do? ‘Now I can see that I’m tired and very weakened’ but what can I do’? She does not envision working until pension, but her goal is to clear the educational costs, and then move to capital city to stay with her children, and perhaps start a trade. Now, she comports herself to safeguard her employment and permanent contract status.
3.3.3. Absenteeism: Production and Action
‘I have just acquired a piece of land from my landlord (residential) to plant corn and cassava. My friends have been teasing me and I also realised that I can’t be buying food all the time. They have agreed to support me with their labour to start the farm this year so that I don’t waste my money on food′.
‘Getting people to work on the farm is difficult. They have to search for a new person, train him or her and hope that he or she stays on. What I can do in 30 min on this farm. A new entrant might use over 2 hours and this will affect the company’.
4.1. Contextualising the Farmworkers’ Politics
‘We have attempted a strike before. It landed the headmen in trouble because some workers informed management that the leaders spearheaded it. They [the headmen] were rebuked for that’.
4.2. Everyday Politics as Weapons of the Weak?
‘People have been working with us for a very long time, but their attitude towards work is bad. At the time that we need workers for our work, that is when they have left the job to go to their own farms. Sometimes it takes two to three months, especially when it is corn season. Imagine if you engage such a person a permanent worker. Sometimes when you make them permanent, their mentalities change and then you realize that the casual workers even work harder’.
‘I cultivate yam, groundnuts and cassava and corn. I have always wanted to add ginger but it is time consuming, and the regulations at work place won’t allow me to do so. Corn can never have a better price than ginger’.
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This number fluctuates due to the large number of casual workers.
Total valid respondents.
Referring to land purchased, not necessarily inherited or accessed through family.
A popular term used by the farmworkers especially women to describe the physical health as a result of intensity of labour.
The official numbers could be lower than the actual numbers because some have worked without contracts, such as the use of students in the past, occasional task sharing by family members, the carriers who work unofficially with harvesters, and others who are temporally hired when there is urgent need for workers- e.g., fire control.
Approx. 2.9 USD as of September 2018.
Most of them also do not have licences for operations because they trained on the farm and do not have the financial resources to apply for one.
As of January, 2019, after the company costs for two major truck accidents that occurred between August and December, 2019.
not translated-the original word used by the farmworker.
The names of respondents referenced in this paper have been replaced with pseudonyms.
The first working day of the month starts from 15th.
Remnants from farms of the dispossessed tenants and landowners, usually cassava.
Particularly, rural areas in the Western Region of Ghana, where they can maintain large cocoa farms under negotiated terms, and often with less control. Engaging in largescale cocoa production in their own communities is risky because the rampant bushfires in the dry seasons, and many of them claim that the best lands have been taken by the land deal.
Due to the geo-politics, much of the political and economic activities are centralised in the southern belt of the country where the capital and the biggest cities are located.
|Instruments||Units of Analyses||Population||Number of Responses|
|Management and Administration||6||6|
|Family Heads of Land Lords||15||15|
|State Departments and Agencies||NA||3|
|Focus Group Discussions||Women Farmworkers|
Former/workers who quit
Work and Home Environments
|8||Males||Females||Total Responses||Up to 1 Acre||2–3 Acres||4–5 Acres||6–8 Acres||9–10 Acres||11–15 Acres|
|Farm Size (Acres)||Male||Female||Total|
|Access||Male (%)||Female (%)||Total (%)|
(Off-Peak and Poor Condition)
|Lucrativeness of Targets|
|Harvesting||Men||86 Bunches||40–50 Bunches||High|
|Loose Picking||Women||4 bags||Daily Wage||Above Average|
|Round Weeding||Both||30 Palms|
(2m around tree)
|Fertiliser Application||Women||200 palms|
(1 kg of fertilizer per tree)
|Slashing||Both||9 m2 × 15 trees||Same||Low|
|Loading||Men||2 Trips daily|
(for a team of 4–6 people)
|Spraying||Men||10 fillings (15l knapsack)||Same|
|Carrying||Women||Per palm bunches harvested||(Laid-off by Harvesters)||Flat wage|
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Gyapong, A.Y. Land Deals, Wage Labour, and Everyday Politics. Land 2019, 8, 94. https://doi.org/10.3390/land8060094
Gyapong AY. Land Deals, Wage Labour, and Everyday Politics. Land. 2019; 8(6):94. https://doi.org/10.3390/land8060094Chicago/Turabian Style
Gyapong, Adwoa Yeboah. 2019. "Land Deals, Wage Labour, and Everyday Politics" Land 8, no. 6: 94. https://doi.org/10.3390/land8060094