Customary West African Rural Factor Markets

  • Erwin Bulte
  • Paul Richards
  • Maarten Voors
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Agricultural Economics and Food Policy book series (AEFP)


We discuss customary institutional arrangements governing the mobilization and allocation of production factors. This includes a description of agricultural production in West Africa, followed by an in-depth discussion of how institutions interlink with the allocation and accumulation of land, labour, and capital. Social bonds play an important role in mobilizing capital, where access to markets and formal financial systems are low. The key resources for agricultural productivity are land and labour. We look at the role of chiefs and family descent groups (or clans) in regulating user rights to land. We show both how, historically, agrarian servitude helped overcome labour bottlenecks, and how today, labour mobilization sometimes takes place via the judicial system.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erwin Bulte
    • 1
  • Paul Richards
    • 2
  • Maarten Voors
    • 1
  1. 1.Development Economics GroupWageningen University and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Directorate of Research and PlanningNjala UniversityMokondeSierra Leone

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