“We are made to believe that our food is not good”: Historicizing the African Green Revolution in Ghana

Authors: Joeva Rock*, University of California, Berkeley
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Development, Africa
Keywords: African Green Revolution, Ghana, agricultural geography, development
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The African Green Revolution is a massive effort by development donors, private sector actors and African governments to connect the continent’s smallholder farmers with global value chains. This mission is encapsulated in a phrase that circulates through organizational texts, speeches, and everyday speak: “agriculture is not a way of life, it is a business.” Critics have raised questions around this binary, and asked whether commercial-intensive initiatives are sustainable or appropriate. In this paper, drawing on data gleaned from archival research and 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Ghana, I analyze the African Green Revolution within historical contexts of colonial rule, post-colonial agricultural planning, and the neoliberal retreat of the state. Archival research demonstrates that Ghanaian officials were discussing how to “make agriculture a business” forty years prior to the current iteration, suggesting that the bedfellows of global agribusiness and international development are more familiar than strange. Using these findings, I argue that historical framings are essential for place-based analyses of how the African Green Revolution operates -- and is understood -- within specific contexts.

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