Drawing on a case study of three cocoa-producing villages in southern Ghana, this paper attempts to reveal some incentive structures embedded in agrarian contracts and local institutions. Most literature on export-crop production in Ghana has tried to analyze the production incentives of farmers in terms of price changes. Although this aspect is important, regarding price as the sole explanatory factor is far from satisfactory in understanding the complex realities in rural Africa. By analyzing the share contracts widely practiced in southern Ghana, the present study argues that local institutions such as land tenure systems and agrarian contracts also provide strong incentives and disincentives to agricultural production. It is therefore necessary that short-term price incentives are placed in some wider, long-term incentive structures embedded in the complex interactions among local institutions.
Since the early 19th century, a number of Africans have come to select Christianity instead of, or in addition to, their existent religions. European missions intended for proselytizing Christianity in Africa also meant the introduction of educational, technological and medical advances to the continent, thus contributing to the high number of African converts. But it is insufficient to interpret the reasons behind those conversions merely from these materialistic aspects. We need to consider another aspect of conversion-one of spontaneity. Historian Richard Gray has researched an African appropriation of the European Christian doctrine. He states that accompanying Europe's accelerated scramble to colonize sub-Saharan Africa, disillusioned black Africans grew skeptical of a “white” sermon, and thus developed their own interpretation of Christianity. This “appropriation” of Christianity for Africans in turn succeeded to encourage more conversions. In contrast, Gray regards those black Christians who converted before full-scale colonization as men of curiosity, or as slaves protected by the missionaries. Thus, he considers their conversions irregular from the view of appropriation. This paper, however, which focuses on the activities of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in mid-19th century Ghana and concentrates especially on the conversions of dependents called “pawns, ” aims to delineate their conversions also in terms of an appropriation of Christianity. In 19th century Ghana, a black dependent classified as a “pawn”-which meant a pledge of a debt-had a means to emancipate himself from his violent master. He could be redeemed by an influential person, and thereby removed from his bad situation. Therefore these dependents (occasionally with success) tried to influence the “rich” missionaries, who had been instructed by their headquarters not to have anything to do with slavery, to engage in redeeming “pawns”. In short, the pawn people were able to change their original, i. e. religious, relations with the missionaries. Thus this paper looks to widen the interpretation of “appropriated Christianity”, from a religious meaning to a practical one as well, and the attempt to grasp African conversion from one historical view will be successful.
Although many rural development projects in dry land Africa have encouraged rural people to plant trees on their landholdings, the actual achievement generally remains far below its target. Taking a case in central Tanzania, this paper clarifies the factors which lead rural people to adopt the practice of tree planting. The paper concludes that the instability in existing conditions of landholding, brought about by land reform, stimulated people to adopt tree planting on their homestead farms. Land reform was carried out through the villagization program of 1974, which aimed to gather and settle people into target village areas. The reform dictated that each homestead farm and distant farmland held by a single household be 0.2 ha and 0.8 ha respectively, and that these holdings be newly allocated or titled by the village government. Land reform destabilized people's existing land rights of occupancy because any holdings which did not conform to these regulations were subject to confiscation and redistribution to other settlers by the government. But the actual procedure of redistribution followed customary practice of land transfer which rural people were quite used to, and as a result they took various measures in order to avoid government acquisition of their holdings under the terms of land reform. As one countermeasure, tree planting was adopted by those people whose homestead farms were larger than the legal size, and by those who had received their holdings through private connection without official permission. They recognized that planting exotic trees with high cash value such as Grevillea robusta, on the boundaries of homestead farms, increased the farm's cost of transfer well above the previous level, making it difficult to transfer the land according to pre-land reform custom. Boundary planting of G. robusta was found to be an effective way of avoiding government acquisition of holdings and maintaining one's rights of occupancy during villagization. The adoption of tree planting originated in an innovative and active response to a particular need arising in a particular situation, rather than in a passive change brought about by education projects which have encouraged tree planting.