This paper is a statistically based research and analysis that examines the historical evolution of the “Strange Farmer” phenomenon from the pre-colonial to the 1990s, and traces their contribution to The Gambia’s peanut export trade and to the colonial coffers, and subsequently those of the independent state. Strange farming is an agricultural contractual arrangement of “input (particularly labor and land) sharing” that enables Gambian landlords to “tie” migrant labor to their farms for the duration of the farming season. This is particularly important during periods of peak labor demand, when migrant-tenants could simply flee for better opportunities. The paper carries out simple linear regression and correlation analyses and finds significant correlation between the number of “Strange Farmers” in a given year and the volume of peanut exports in the subsequent year, contradicting Jarrett’s (1949) claim of no apparent correlation. The study describes the “Strange Farmer” system and also uses, but modifies, the classical “vent for surplus” theory, noting that expanded peanut production and exports must be understood against the background of seasonal labor supply augmentation by “Strange Farmers.” With these premises, the paper takes a long-term perspective on this important source of labor for The Gambia’s peanut trade.


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pp. 117-138
Launched on MUSE
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