SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Farm workers in the land grab: evidence from Uganda and Tanzania

Elisa Greco (Catholic University of Lille, France)

Date: 30 October 2019Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 30 October 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51a

Type of Event: Seminar

In the decade after the global financial crisis, mega-farms have been hailed as a way to create much-needed rural employment in the African countryside. So why has there been a wave of strikes in large scale rice farms in Uganda and Tanzania? Who are these farm workers and why do they strike? This comparative, mixed-methods study of farm workers in the land grab, based on five months and a half of fieldwork, analysed rural wage differentials across farm scale. Findings show that farm wages were lower on mega-farms than on small, middle and large locally owned farms. Strikes were motivated by demands for higher wages and better work conditions.  High levels of exploitation - alongside casualisation, undignified and unsafe work conditions - make this type of employment undesirable and contested. Not only policy support to mega-farm promotion for employment generation should stop, but we should shift our focus to the potential of on-farm wildcat strikes for wider rural political mobilisation, taking a labour-centered development approach.

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