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Migrant farmers as information brokers: agroecosystem management in the transition zone of Ghana

Marney E. Isaac, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences and Center for Critical Development Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough; Department of Geography, University of Toronto
Luke C. N. Anglaaere, Forestry Research Institute of Ghana
Daniel S. Akoto, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Evans Dawoe, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06589-190256

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Abstract

Environmentally induced farmer migration is an important livelihood strategy, yet little is known of the effects on the destination region agroecosystem information networks and management practices. In the forest-savanna transition zone (Brong Ahafo Region) of Ghana, where migration from northern regions (migrant) and from neighboring regions (settler) is active, we chart the role of migrant famers and the type of agroecosystem management practices embedded in information networks using a social networks approach. Based on empirical network data from 44 respondents across three communities, we illustrate a diffuse information network, with variable tie frequency between settlement categories (local, settler, or migrant) of farmers. The cohesion of this network is dependent on a few strategic bridging ties initiated by migrant farmers, who are thus centrally positioned to exchange agroecosystem management practices between geographically and socially distant groups. At the individual level, migrant and settler farmers are more likely: (1) to have larger networks with more ties between members of their networks, (2) to be brokers positioned between non-migrant farmers, and (3) to tend (although not statistically significantly) to use pro-environmental management regimes, including agroforestry practices, new planting methods, and plot-scale weeding. We conceptualize this phenomenon as extended social and environmental experience and the deployment of social-ecological memory, with migrant farmers as potential agents of innovation and adaptive management.

Key words

agricultural innovation; agroecology; agroforestry; environmental change; Ghana; natural resource management; social network analysis; social-ecological memory; Theobroma cacao

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087