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Rural emptiness and its influence on subsistence farming in contemporary Gabon : a case study in Loango National Park.

Fairet, E. and Bell, S. and Remanda, K. and Setchell, J.M. (2014) 'Rural emptiness and its influence on subsistence farming in contemporary Gabon : a case study in Loango National Park.', Society, biology and human affairs., 78 (1-2). pp. 39-59.


In sub-Saharan Africa, rural exodus leads to increasing unemployment in urban centres and to the disorganisation of farming practice in rural areas. This article draws on data from participant observation and interviews to analyse how rural exodus, combined with a population density that was already low, led to what we refer to as rural emptiness in Gabon, and how this affects farmers’ livelihoods. Farming in Gabon is largely slash and burn agriculture with a gender division of labour and therefore requires both men and women. Farming practices at our study site, in Loango National Park, follow a traditional pattern, but the labour force has been reshaped by demographic and social change. The exodus of young people, especially men, has left ageing farmers with increased workloads but decreased access to labour. Subsistence farming is, therefore, in a state of crisis and farmers’ livelihoods are threatened. Promoting the development of farming and rendering rural life more appealing through the development of roads and other infrastructure could reverse current trends of high unemployment, weakened agricultural production and high dependence on imported food in Gabon.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Rural exodus, Labour, Agriculture, Central Africa.
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.
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Publisher statement:This work is available under the Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) License
Date accepted:18 June 2014
Date deposited:24 August 2015
Date of first online publication:2014
Date first made open access:No date available

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