This working paper uses a multi-level approach to investigate the recent trend of semi-permanent migration of tenant farmers from Northern Ghana to Brong Ahafo’s transition zone. Significant numbers of migrants have moved to this ‘agricultural frontier’ since the 1970s, for the purpose of accessing farmland through rental or sharecropping arrangements in order to engage in smallholder commercial agriculture of food crops such as maize, yam and cassava. Using both qualitative data collected at three migrant ‘settler’ communities in Brong Ahafo in 2014 as well as census data, the paper seeks to explore the relationship between migration and shifting conditions at migrant destinations, including evolving local customary tenure norms, changing land use patterns, and the emergence of trans-local migrant social networks. The paper’s key findings include that migration from Northern Ghana to Brong Ahafo’s transition zone reflects discrete mobility corridors, rooted in trans-local kin networks, which have resulted in the movement of migrants from particular northern origin areas to particular destinations. Echoing van der Geest (2011a), the paper suggests that this migration is perceived by migrants themselves to be a migration to ‘greener pastures’, owing to the fact that the transition zone offers access to better agro-ecological conditions than they have access to in Northern Ghana. However, the paper’s qualitative research findings suggest a substantial divergence in migrant livelihood outcomes amongst Northern Ghanaian migrants in Brong Ahafo, showing that there are limits of migration to ‘agricultural frontiers’ in terms of poverty reduction, for both migrants and their northern kin.
Sward, J. Moving to ‘greener pastures’? The complex relationship between internal migration, land tenure and poverty in mid-Ghana. Migrating out of Poverty RPC Working Paper No. 33. Migrating out of Poverty Consortium, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK (2016) 35 pp.