IDS Bulletin Vol. 32 Nos. 1

Cocoa Booms, the Legalisation of Land Relations and Politics in Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana:

Published on 1 January 2001

Summaries How does ‘law as practice’ affect the economic and political behaviour of ordinary people? It is argued that the degree of legalisation of land relations and the degree of competition between regulatory orders in two cocoa?exporting countries of West Africa had important effects on the responses of peasant farmers to economic and social change. In spite of similar experiences of mass migration and land commercialisation during the period of high world market prices in the 1970s and 1980s, cocoa growers in each country responded quite differently, and the longer term political and social effects of the transformations wrought by cocoa growing were also different. In Cote d’Ivoire, farmers operating within a system of extreme pluralism and informality of land regulation used ‘social bargaining’ relationships to deal with both the opportunities offered by the new cash crops and the pressures imposed by the government’s policy of a ‘free?for?all’ on land acquisition and labour migration. Whilst this local flexibility facilitated the most rapid ‘cocoa boom’ in history, its political costs were ethnically mobilised political conflict and freedom for the state to regulate land access through arbitrary, centralised patronage. In Ghana, by contrast, greater legalisation of customary land law and less uncertainty in relations between host communities and migrants enabled local farmers to exercise greater control over land use and production decisions. Their impact on land and labour supplies resulted in continuing decline in Ghanaian cocoa production. Access to land was also less clientelised by the state and less politically ethnicised.

Cite this publication

Crook, R., C (2001) Cocoa Booms, the Legalisation of Land Relations and Politics in Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana: . IDS Bulletin 32(1): 35-45

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Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Crook, Richard C


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