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Why Do Gezira Tenants Withhold Their Households' Labour?

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The Gezira Scheme which was established during British Colonial rule in Sudan was often viewed as a 'model of development' where small producers (tenants) are incorporated into a large-scale project. The low contribution of the tenants' household labour in the Scheme's farming was a matter which was not expected and which begged for explanation. Some officials and scholars seem to attribute this to the tenants 'negative attitudes' towards farm labour, an attitude caused by ideological norms, lifestyle and other factors. This paper attempts to situate the problem in its socio-economic and historical context. After exposing different 'technical factors' that may affect the tenants' household labour input, it goes on to search for answers in the effects of the uneven and non-linear development of capitalism. It contends that factors of uncertainty and obstacles for development created by the institution itself, as well as factors related to the wider socio-economic formation, have made Gezira tenants, who are not an undifferentiated stratum, and their household members tendencious towards finding alternative ways of livelihood.

Affiliations: 1: School of Development Studies University of East Anglia, Norwich, U. K.


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