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The promise of a country

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Title:
The promise of a country the impact of seasonal U.S. migration on the Jamaican peasantry
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Griffith, David Craig, 1951-
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English
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ix, 242 leaves : ; 28 cm.

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Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural land ( jstor )
Agriculture ( jstor )
Capital accumulation ( jstor )
Economics ( jstor )
Farm workers ( jstor )
Farms ( jstor )
Labor ( jstor )
Net income ( jstor )
Peasant class ( jstor )
Workforce ( jstor )
Jamaicans -- United States ( lcsh )
Migrant agricultural laborers -- United States ( lcsh )
Peasants -- Jamaica ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1983.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 228-241).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by David Craig Griffith.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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AA00004896_00001 ( sobekcm )
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THE PROMISE OF A COUNTRY: THE IMPACT OF SEASONAL U.S.
MIGRATION ON THE JAMAICAN PEASANTRY
















BY

DAVID CRAIG GRIFFITH


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

1983




THE PROMISE OF A COUNTRY:
MIGRATION ON THE
THE IMPACT OF SEASONAL U.S.
JAMAICAN PEASANTRY
BY
DAVID CRAIG GRIFFITH
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1983


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Jamaicans have a parting phrase which goes, "Give
thanks." It means give thanks to Jah but it is also used
as a means of thanking others, as though gratitude draws
its strength of sincerity from the cosmos. Anyone
preparing for and conducting research for two years
accumulates the need to give sincere thanks many times
over. First and foremost, I thank the Jamaican and U.S.
people who provided me with the information which made this
study possible. I would like to thank each of them
individually but I think it is best to keep their names to
myself, so that their privacy is not further intruded upon.
However, there are some individuals whose aid in this
project should be recognized. I would like to thank Dr.
Carl Stone of the Department of Government of the
University of The West Indies for providing me with
institutional affiliation and taking an interest in this
research. I also thank Mr. Jerry Harrison of the
Agricultural Marketing Corporation, Mr. Leslie of the
Christiana Potato Growers' Cooperative, and the entire
staff of the Integrated Rural Development Project's Two


Meetings Office, for providing me with records and other
information. Dr. Harvey Blustain was particularly helpful,
providing me with copies of his research reports from his
two years with the IRDP. Robert Mowbray at the USAID
office in Kingston was also helpful in this regard.
In the United States, there were a number of people
who helped me during all phases of this research. I owe a
great deal to Drs. Charles Wood and Terry McCoy of the
University of Florida. They hired me as a research
assistant to help collect information on British West
Indian farm workers in South Florida. It was this research
which first stimulated my interest in the project and I
thank them not only for their aid throughout the evolution
of this research but also for giving me access to some of
their data from the South Florida study. I am thankful to
Dr. Anthony Oliver-Smith for his support not only during
this project, but throughout my stay at the University of
Florida. He gave me many generous hours of his time,
patience, and advice, and a great deal of whatever
knowledge I possess draws upon his insight, creativity, and
intelligence. Dr. Paul Doughty has likewise given me much
advice, time, and thoughtful conversation, for which I am
thankful. I thank also Dr. Paul Magnarella for providing
me with references while I was preparing for this research
and for agreeing to serve on my dissertation committee.
Dr. Russ Bernard was instrumental in the design of this
i i i


/
I
research, and without his help my research would have been
far less organized.
Others who provided me with information in the United
States include Mr. Charles Gagliardi of the Washington,
D.C., office of the Department of Labor's Employment and
Training Administration, Agricultural Certifications
Division, Mr. Marvin Peck of the New England Apple
Council, and Ms. Patricia Meier of the Belle Glade Job
Service Employment Agency. I thank all of them for sparing
their time to talk with me. While in the field, John
Pulis, an anthropologist from New York, proved to be a
constant source of discussion and inspiration.
Funding for this project was provided by the
University of Florida's Department of Anthropology, The
Inter-American Foundation, The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral
Dissertation Research Abroad Program, and the Wenner-Gren
Foundation for Anthropological Research. I am extremely
thankful for this support and in particular I thank
Elizabeth Veatch and Mel Astreken of the Inter-American
Foundation for their help in the administration of the
Inter-American Fellowship. I am also thankful to the
Inter-American Foundation review board, in particular Ben
Orlove, Lisa Peattie, Robert Maguire, David Collier, and
Tom Davis. Finally, I owe the greatest thanks to my wife,
Nancy, and my two children, Emily and Brook, for
accompanying me to the field and for giving me the support
i v


I needed to conduct this research. To all of them, give
thank s.
v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ii
ABSTRACT viii
CHAPTER
I INTRODUCTION 1
Hypotheses and Research Methods 2
Implications of the Study for Peasants
as Labor Migrants 9
A Note on Organization 18
II THE BRITISH WEST INDIES TEMPORARY ALIEN LABOR
PROGRAM 20
The State and Recruitment In Jamaica 30
Recruitment and the Characteristics of the
Labor Pool 37
III AN ETHNOGRAPHIC OVERVIEW OF A CENTRAL JAMAICAN
PEASANTRY 47
A Portrait of A Jamaican Peasant 47
The Two Meetings Watershed 56
Houses, Yards, and People 58
General Characteristics of Peasant Agriculture
In the Watershed 65
Summary 76
IV THE IMPACT OF SEASONAL INTERNATIONAL LABOR
MIGRATION ON PEASANT AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION 78
Results of the Comparisons 81
The Importance of the Growth of the Peasant
Household 96
The Life Cycle of the Farm Worker 96
Farm Worker Interaction with the U.S. Host
Communities and Consumerism Among
The Workers 99
Primary Uses of U.S. Earnings in Jamaica 107
v 1


V WOMEN, REMITTANCES, AND REPRODUCTION 119
VI DIFFERENTIATION AND CHANGE WITHIN THE
JAMAICAN PEASANTRY 147
The Shift from Reproduction to Production 153
Economic Diversification: Agricultural
And Nonagricultural .....162
Differentiation and Change in Rural Jamaica 173
Changes Within The Peasant Household 174
Changes Between Peasant Households 176
Changes Between Peasants, The State,
And Capitalists 182
VII CONCLUSION 191
Summary of Findings 191
Implications for Theory and Development 201
APPENDICES
A 1982 PRODUCTION COSTS PER CWT OF IRISH POTATO
(JAMAICAN DOLLARS) 217
B TABLES DESIGNATING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FARM
WORKERS WHICH ARE TANGENTIAL TO THE TEXT 219
C POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS 222
BIBLIOGRAPHY 228
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 242
V 1 1


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE PROMISE OF A COUNTRY: THE IMPACT OF SEASONAL U.S.
MIGRATION ON THE JAMAICAN PEASANTRY
By
David Craig Griffith
December, 1983
Chairman: Dr. Anthony Oliver-Smith
Major Department: Anthropology
Since 1943, Jamaican peasants have been legally
migrating to the United States seasonally and annually to
harvest agricultural products, picking apples in the
Northeast and cutting sugar cane in South Florida. This
study assesses the impact of these migrants on their home
communities, paying particular attention to their
utilization of U.S. earnings. Comparing a sample
population of migrants' households to a sample population
of peasants who have not had equivalent migration
experiences, the study tests hypotheses which predict that
returning migrants will invest in their primary economic
activities, in this case their peasant farms. These
comparisons reveal that few differences exist between the
v 111


two populations in terms of demographic, agricultural
production, and socioeconomic variables. The findings lead
to the rejection of hypotheses which predict that labor
migrants returning from developed countries to
underdeveloped ones will substantially contribute to the
development of their home countries. Instead, this study
shows that Jamaican peasant social structure, and peasant
production which is oriented toward household maintenance,
social security, and reproduction, function to spread the
migrants' foreign earnings throughout their social
networks, undermine their ability to accumulate capital,
and, ultimately, aid in the reproduction of the peasantry.
However, in cases of prolonged participation in seasonal,
international labor migration, .ojl peasant households have
been able to shift from spending their earnings in ways
which reproduce the peasantry to the acquisition and
accumulation of capital. This process tends to result in
changes within and between peasant households, and usually
involves peasant households diversifying their economic
activities into agricultural and nonagriculrual sectors of
the Jamaican economy.
i x


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
This study investigates the consequences of
international labor migration on the social relations and
economic activities of a peasantry. Its central concerns
are the return of international labor migrants to their
home communities and the ways in which the migrants utilize
the money, goods, information, and experiences they acquire
through migrating to another country to work.
Specifically, the study focusses on the impact of the
British West Indies Temporary Alien Labor Program on the
Jamaican peasantry. This program is a legal labor
migration program in which workers from the five Caribbean
countries of Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and
St. Vincent travel to the United States seasonally and
annually to cut sugar cane in South Florida for around five
to seven months (late October to March or April). The
program also allows Jamaicans to travel to the U.S.
Northeast to pick apples during September and October. A
small percentage of those who pick apples also harvest
sugar cane. The decision to focus specifically on the
1


2
program's impact on the Jamaican peasantry was based on
preliminary analysis which discovered that 80% of the work
force comes from Jamaica and 91% of the Jamaicans are
peasant farmers while at home (McCoy and Wood, 1982).
Hypotheses and Research Methods
In March of 1981, a research team headed by Terry
McCoy and Charles Wood of the University of Florida
interviewed 302 British West Indian cane cutters at the
South Florida labor camps during the last few days of the
harvest. The purpose of the project was to identify the
sociodemographic characteristics of the labor force, and to
investigate the ways in which the workers were utilizing
their U.S. earnings, both in the U.S. and in their home
countries.
It is commonly assumed that migrants' earnings in
developed countries, carried home or remitted, as well as
the skills and experiences they acquire abroad, contribute
to the economic development of the sending countries
(Spengler and Myers, 1977; OEDC, 1978, 1977). Indeed, the
presumed beneficial impact of international labor migration
has been used to justify and legitimate the British West
Indies Temporary Alien Labor Program in both government and
industry circles. For example, a 1978 U.S. Senate/
Congressional report, citing previous testimony in court


3
cases concerning the program, asserts that the program
" . .has the additional merit of being beneficial to the
economy of the British West Indies" and that ". . mi
gration, both temporary and permanent, has contributed and
will in the future contribute to the realization of the
goals of development programs" (U.S. Senate/Cong ress 1978 :
17, 29). Despite the fact that the program continues to be
justified both here and in the Caribbean by reference to
this presumed beneficial outcome (The Miami Herald, 1982;
The Daily Gleaner, 1982), little empirical evidence has
been brought to bear on the issue. It was therefore
important to discover whether or not these U.S. earnings
were being transmitted to the sending Caribbean economies
in the ways predicted by apologists of the program. A
central aspect of the survey conducted by McCoy and Wood
was whether these cane-cutters were accumulating capital at
home and laying the basis for income-generating activities,
or were simply consuming their earnings, reproducing
themselves and their households, without significantly
contributing to their home countries' economic development.
Survey results indicated that, with the exception of
Barbados, the cane cutters were predominantly recruited
from the small farm or peasant sectors of their home
economies. Around 68% of the West Indian population were
peasants while at home. Analysis of the Jamaican
sub-sample revealed that 91% of these men farmed some land


4
in 1980, with the average amount farmed being around 3
acres (McCoy and Wood, 1982).
With most of the men coming from small farms sectors
of the Caribbean, one way to determine the program's impact
is to ask whether these cane cutters use their U.S.
earnings for capital formation and accumulation resulting
in increased agricultural production and improved
productivity. The presumed positive impact of U.S.
employment implies that the return migrants would be buying
land, farm equipment and livestock, hiring workers,
bringing more land under cultivation, planting more cash
crops and adopting more of the characteristics of
capitalist economic activity because of their employment in
the U.S. and the skills, knowledge, information, and money
they gain the re.
McCoy and Wood tested this hypothesis by comparing farm
workers who had worked for fewer than four seasons with
farm workers who had worked for four or more seasons. As a
result of their longer participation in the program,
workers with four or more years of employment in the U.S.
presumably had more of the information, skills and earnings
than did farm workers with only one to three years of
experience. A multiple classification analysis
demonstrated that the "old timers'" earnings were higher
than the "newcomers'," a result of the sugar companies'
annually screening out the less productive farm workers


5
(Wood and McCoy, 1982). However, the comparisons revealed
that there were no significant differences between old
timers and newcomers in terras of selected agricultural
variables (amount of land farmed and numbers of heads of
livestock). These findings provide little support for the
contention that seasonal employment in the United States
leads to the formation and accumulation of capital among
small farmers in the Caribbean.
These findings, however, are inconclusive due to the
limitations of the method used by McCoy and Wood. The
approach compares migrants with other migrants rather than
migrants with other Caribbean peasants who have never
worked in this program or have not had an equivalent
employment experience. These tests also fail to take into
account the possibility of nonagricultural investments on
the part of the farm workers who migrate to the U.S.
Empirical evidence from numerous cases of Southern European
and Mexican return migration demonstrate that returning
international labor migrants often invest overseas earnings
in nonagricultural economic activities (cf. Abadan-Nervat,
1976; Brandes, 1975; Reichert, 1981; Dinerman, 1978, 1981).
These findings are supported further by research focussing
on the allocation of extra funds and extra family labor by
peasant households which show that peasant use these extra
resources to finance nonagricultural investments and
economic activities (Cook, 1983; Chayanov, 1966).


6
A more valid analysis of the impact of The BWI
Temporary Alien Labor Program involves comparing a
population of farm workers who migrate to the U.S. to a
population of Caribbean peasants who have not had the
opportunity to work in this program nor have had an
equivalent employment experience. The present study began
with the intention of making such comparisons.
Specifically, the focus of this analysis was to compare two
such sample populations in terms of a number of
agricultural and socieconomic variables. These variables
were derived from ethnographic field research conducted
during the first eight months of 1982. This research was
designed to determine the nature of Jamaican peasant
farming and to identify the opportunities open to Jamaican
peasants for investment, farm expansion and growth, as well
as the means by which Jamaican peasants become socially and
economically differentiated from one another.
This phase of field research was conducted in the
9861-acre Two Meetings Watershed in Jamaica's mountainous
interior. From 1977 to 1983, this area was the site of the
Ministry of Agriculture/ USAID Second Integrated Rural
Development Project (IRDP). The total population of the
watershed was around 2000 peasant farm families. In the
absence of a complete list of the families, cluster
sampling was used. The first step entailed mapping the
area and becoming familiar with patterns of settlement and


7
land use. Subsequently, the watershed was divided into 80
research areas of around 125 acres each. Forty of these
research areas were randomly selected, with the intention
of collecting information on 5 peasant households per area
or a 10% sample of 200. Inclement weather, transporation
problems and other difficulties prevented me from reaching
this goal. As a result, I finished the initial round of
interviewing and observations with a 6.7 % sample of 134
peasant households.
Of the households selected, forty-five of these had
one member, usually the male household head, who had
participated or was currently participating in the BWI
Temporary Alien Labor Program. The remaining 89, the
control population, had no such individual, although seven
of these households contained one member who had had
similar or more extensive migration experiences: six
participated in a Canadian Farm Workers Programme (nearly
identical to the U.S. apple harvest migration) and one had
been a long term migrant to England where he was a machine
operator for 15 years. In the final comparisons between
the two populations, I excluded the seasonal Canadian
migrants, yielding a control population of 83.
From all 134 households I collected information on the
aspects of Jamaican peasant farming discussed above as well
as sociodemographic data. This information was
cross-checked by direct observation, through the use of key


8
informants, with AMC, Potato Cooperative and IRDP records
and by repeated visits to the households and their fields.
Subsequently, I randomly selected a sub-sample of 11 farm
workers' households and 11 control households, from whom I
collected more detailed and more reliable data on
investment strategies, household histories, social
relations with other houses and changes in the farming
system over time, as well as supplementing previously
obtained information. This sub-sample was also used as a
gauge by which I could judge the reliability of the
findings from the larger sample of 134 respondents. From
the farm workers I also obtained additional information
specific to their experience of working in the United
States (e.g., number of seasons, whether they worked in
apples or cane or both, years of travel, expenditures in
the U.S., uses of overseas money, etc.).
After completing the survey research in Jamaica, I
traveled to the United States between September and
December of 1982 to conduct research in the appple growing
region of the U.S. Northeast and the sugar cane growing
region of South Florida. In the U.S. Northeast I visited
three apple labor camps, in Martinsburg, West Virginia,
Winchester, Virginia and Londonberry, New Hampshire. In
addition to observing and interviewing Jamaican farm
workers, I interviewed residents of the U.S. host
communities and U.S. Department of Labor personnel and


9
consulted local newspapers. Both in South Florida and in
the U.S. Northeast I paid specific attention to the
consumer behavior of the Jamaicans, to the wage figures
shown on their paychecks, to their remittance behavior, and
to their interactions with the native U.S. populations.
Because of difficulties associated with the geographic
distance between labor camps, random sampling was
impossible. Instead, I utilized my relationships with
Jamaicans I had met in Jamaica during the summer of 1982
for the selection of respondents. The information gathered
in this context provides useful data on migrant workers in
the U.S., although the nature of the sample precludes
generalizing to the labor force as a whole.
In 1983, I returned to Jamaica for four months to
observe the behavior of women in the Two Meetings Watershed
and their use of remittances received from the migrants. I
also interviewed and observed migrants' households from
parishes outside the Two Meetings Watershed (primarily St.
Elizabeth and Westmoreland) for comparative purposes.
Implications of the Study for Peasants as Labor Migrants
The findings of this study contain implications for
the study of peasants, especially those analyses which
focus on peasants as migrant laborers. Although peasants
have been the subject of scholary attention for decades,


10
controversy remains over the precise definition of this
term. While this work will not resolve this debate, it is
necessary to review the characteristics that enter into the
definition used here. Generally, peasant production is
organized on the basis of social relations within and
between rural peasant households. Unpaid or underpaid
family labor, cooperative labor arrangements, and hired
labor are combined within the peasant production process to
provide rural households with agricultural and petty goods
and services. The household is the principal unit within
which decisions are made and in which labor is allocated
for production. The relations within and between
households are dynamically related to the natural or
biological growth of the peasant household and its
relationship to the growth of other households. The
primary object of peasant production is to provide for the
subsistence and the eventual reproduction of the household
(Meillassoux, 1972). Subsistence involves the material
provisioning of the peasant household and draws peasant
households into relationships with one another, within and
between generations, which provide social security for
direct producers and for those too old and too young to
work. Reproduction involves the physiological reproduction
of the human energy necessary to engage in labor-intensive
production, as well as the reproduction of the social
relations within and between peasant households which


provide for social security and provisioning. Peasant
agriculture tends to be characterized by small and usually
marginal landholdings, labor intensive production
techniques, and diverse crop and livestock varieties which
assure household nuturitional needs. In addition to
meeting household nutritional needs, peasant farms provide,
or attempt to provide, rural households with cash through
the sale of produce to local, regional, national and
sometimes world marketing systems.
Peasants are not everywhere uniform in the strategies
they employ to survive and reproduce. Some peasantries, as
in the case of Jamaica, include segments who attempt to
acquire and accumulate capital for investment and expansion
purposes. Historically, peasantries such as the Jamaican
peasantry have been defined as living in open peasant
communities as opposed to closed corporate communities
(Wolf, 1957). Although peasants the world over live in
communities that are politically and economically parts of
nation-states, these communities differ with regard to the
degree of their interaction with the nation, and the effect
of outside contact on the social relations within the
peasant community. Jamaican peasant communities have
historically been open to outside influences. Typically,
peasantries such as the Jamaican peasantry include peasants
who, by responding to market and investment opportunities,
have become transformed from peasants into rural producers


who own and control small scale capital. The intrusion of
the world market demand for bananas into Jamaica, for
*
example, resulted in many peasants becoming small
capitalist farmers (Robotham, 1977: 53; Griffith, 1979),
many of whom retained links to the peasantry. In the case
of those who produced bananas, a substantial portion of
these capitalist farmers returned to a reliance on peasant
social relations following a plague of diseases which
crippled the banana trade in Jamaica (Griffith, 1979).
Although Jamaican peasants are similar to other
peasants in open communities, Migdal (1974) has argued
that communal control and resistance to outside contact in
closed peasant communities has begun to erode. Migration
has contributed greatly to this process (Migdal, 1974:
112-125; cf. Magnarella, 1974: 179-183, 1979:119-123;
Brandes, 1975: 13-17). The findings presented here on the
impact of labor migration on a peasantry may therefore be
applicable to both closed and open peasant communities.
Labor migration is common among peasants for a variety
of reasons. Because they often produce at levels below the
minimum needed for household maintenance and reproduction,
or because their household consumption demands expand as
they are exposed to wider varieties of goods and services,
peasants must often supplement income generated by
household production by seeking wage labor. The necessity
of supplementing household income with wage labor often


results in internal labor migration (migration within the
peasant's home country) or international labor migration.
Both internal and international labor migration among
peasants have received a great deal of scholarly attention
in recent years. These studies have resulted in the
development of theories which seek to understand, explain,
and predict the causes and consequences of labor migration
for both sending and receiving societies.
In the context of these broader issues, this study
presents an analysis of data on Jamaican peasants who
return to their home countries after participating in a
seasonal, international legal labor migration program. A
principal objective is to test the hypothesis that these
migrants contribute to the development of their home
countries by investing overseas earnings in primary
economic activites, in this case their peasant farms. The
findings also have some limited implications for theories
of labor migration among peasants, in particular theories
which address the issue of whether or not return migration
results in the economic development of countries which
routinely supply labor to other, more developed countries.
As noted previously, a central issue in the literature
addressing the relationships between return migration and
economic development is whether or not migrants returning
from developed to underdeveloped countries use their
earnings to acquire and accumulate capital. Capital


14
formation and accumulation among returning migrants have
received attention because these factors are assumed to be
economically beneficial for underdeveloped countries.
Positive macrostrue tura 1 effects, in turn, are assumed to
follow from the improvement of the individual migrant's
standard of living, the generation of employment, an
increase in the production of goods and services, and a
decrease in the migrant's reliance on state welfare
systems. On the other hand, if return migrants fail to
accumulate capital with their earnings, using them instead
to meet household expenses, the benefits of international
labor migration accrue primarily to the industries in which
the migrants work. The benefits to the migrants' home
countries and communities are vastly reduced or may, in
some instances, be negative. The latter is presumed to
follow from the fact that sending countries contribute to
the maintenance of migrant laborers during their
unproductive years (youth and old age), while the
industries and countries in which they work receive the
benefits of their labor power during the peak productive
period. Unless the migrants acquire and accumulate
capital, they continue to tax the support systems of their
home countries and communities while contributing little to
the development of productive enterprises which could, in
turn, reduce reliance on these support systems. Without
capital accumulation, the migrant returning home must


15
continue to rely on wage labor, compete with others for
jobs in countries usually characterized by high rates of
unemployment, as well as compete for such things as credit,
agricultural extension services, development monies, and
health and education services. Finally, without capital
accumulation, the migrant's children also continue to rely
on and need the systems of support provided by the state
and informal social security networks, and must continue to
rely on wage labor.
The impacts of internation labor migration on the
sending countries, however, should not be regarded as
entirely negative. The remittances migrants send to
underdeveloped countries provide foreign exchange for the
underdeveloped country, the migrants' households benefit
during the migrants' years of travel by acquiring goods and
income, and the absence of the migrants reduces pressure on
support systems and labor markets while they are away.
Nevertheless these positive effects must be placed in the
context of the negative factors noted above.
Three dimensions of The BWI Temporary Alien Labor
Program make it particularly suitable to the study of the
impact of return international labor migration on a
peasantry. First, it is seasonal labor migration,
providing Jamaican peasants with the opportunity to
annually move between their home communities and a setting
in which they are wage laborers, spending around half of


16
the year in each setting. The participation of Jamaican
peasants in this program thus differs from most incidences
of legal international labor migration among peasants,
which usually involve peasants residing in countries
foreign to them for long time periods, such as those who
participate in the European guestworker programs (e.g.,
Magnarella, 1979 ; Abadan-Unat, ed. 1976 ; Rhoades, 1978 ;
Brandes, 1975). Seasonal migration among peasants is
usually confined to labor migration within their home
countries (e.g., Kemper, 1977). Second, the program is
international, with migrants moving between underdeveloped
countries in the Caribbean to a developed country and then
returning to the underdeveloped country. This provides
Jamaican peasants with an opportunity to receive wages
which are high by the standards of their home countries, as
well as to acquire the goods, information, and experiences
of an economically developed setting. Third, the Jamaican
peasants who participate in this program vary with regard
to the number of years they travel to the U.S., some
participating in the program only a single year and others
participting as many as twenty to thirty years. This
allows us to introduce a temporal dimension into the
analysis, focussing specifically on how differential
participation in the program, and hence different degrees
of frequency of movement between the peasantry and the wage


17
labor setting, leads to differential social relational and
economic impacts within the peasantry.
The analysis of this program's impact on the Jamaican
peasantry proceeds along two comparative lines. First,
comparisons are made between Jamaican peasants who have
participated in the program and Jamaican peasants who have
not had equivalent migration experiences. These
comparisons seek to determine the extent and nature of the
socioeconomic differentiation which occurs within the
Jamaican peasantry as a direct result of seasonal
international labor migration. That is, these comparisons
address the question of whether the single variable of
seasonal international labor migration functions to
differentiate peasant producers from one another.
Second, the aspect of differential participation in
the program allows us to compare the participants in the
program with one another, focussing on the results of
differing degrees of access to the wages, goods,
information, and experiences of the developed world. These
comparisons are designed to investigate the importance of
the number of years of participation. The information
gained through these comparisons contributes to a better
understanding of the role of international labor migration
in the process of socioeconomic differentiation and social
change within the peasantry. This portion of the study
provides insights into the changes which peasants undergo


18
as a result of differential participation in capitalist
wage labor settings.
A Note on Organization
The following chapter discusses the general aspects of
the BWI Temporary Alien Labor Program and the relationships
that exist between government, industry, and labor in the
U.S. and Jamaica in the context of the program. It argues
that U.S. agribusinesses desire access to this labor force
because they are "captive" laborers, and that the
continuation of the program rests on a particular intimacy
between industry and government which has widespread
political support. It then discusses the recruitment
process in Jamaica, pointing out that national level
intentions are subject to reinterpretation at the local
level, and arguing that the workers recruited for the
program have direct and indirect social connections with
representatives of the Jamaican power structure. Chapter
three, shifting to the microlevel affected by these broader
processes, describes the social environment from which
Jamaican peasants are recruited into the program, paying
particular attention to Jamaican peasant social structure
and the economics of peasant agriculture. Chapter four
presents the comparisons between the farm workers'
households and the control peasants' households, and


19
explains the results of these comparisons by examining
peasant social structure, the life cycle stage of the farm
workers, and the unreliability of peasant agriculture, in
terms of how they channel peasant economic behavior and
affect the ultimate destinations of U.S. earnings. Chapter
five focusses specifically on the role of women as
recipients of remittances from the program and argues that
their concern for social security functions to reproduce
the labor force and the conditions of life facing the
peasantry. Chapter six then shifts the analysis toward the
differences in expenditure patterns between long-term and
short-term participants in the program. It argues that
long-term participants are sometimes able to satisfy
household consumption, social security, and maintenance
expenditures, and subsequently shift from reproductive
expenditures to the formation and accumulation of capital.
Chapter seven then considers the case of Jamaican peasant
migration to the U.S. in terms of its implications for
theory and development.


CHAPTER II
THE BRITISH WEST INDIES TEMPORARY ALIEN LABOR PROGRAM
In a study prepared by the U.S. House/Senate
subcommittee on immigration, the program which underlies
this study is called The British West Indies Temporary
Alien Labor Program. In the Ministry of Labour and
Employment of the country which provides 80% of the
workers, they call it The Farm Workers Programme. These
names emphasize different aspects of the same program: the
former to its characteristic of admitting non-U.S. citizens
into the United States on a temporary basis, the latter to
its characteristic of admitting these men for agricultural
as opposed to industrial employment. The name Farm
Workers' Programme also conveys the accurate meaning that
the men who participate in the program work on farms not
only in the U.S. but in Jamaica as well. But in Jamaica
they are farm workers of a highly different character: they
work on farms not as wage laborers but as the owners or
principal managers of those farms. They are peasants at
home, rural proletariat abroad. They participate in two
qualitatively different sets of social relations of
production. The products they produce in the two contexts
20


21
are only superficially similar: they are agricultural
products in both contexts, but in the U.S. these
agricultural products, apples and sugar, are commodities,
grown strictly for sale. In Jamaica the agricultural
products the farm workers produce are grown for both home
use and for sale. That is, they are foods for the
household which, given a good yield and good market,
sometimes double as commodities, or commodities which,
given a poor yield and poor market, sometimes double as
foods for the household. In the United States they work to
help create profits for others; in Jamaica they sometimes
have to eat the goods which could possibly create profits
for themselves.
Begun during WWII, in 1943, legally sanctioned on
April 29th of that year under Public Law 43, the Farm
Workers' Programme in its first year of operation admitted
13,526 men from the Bahamas and the English-speaking
Caribbean to work as agricultural laborers throughout the
U.S. east of the Mississippi River. World War II was in
full swing and the industrial centers of Detroit, Chicago,
Gary, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Newark, New York and other
cities throughout the Eastern United States were drawing
U.S. citizens out of agricultural occupations and into the
armed forces and the defense industry. These population
movements within the United States stimulated simultaneous
populations movements from the countries of Latin America


22
and the Caribbean in the U.S. to fill the agricultural jobs
that the U.S. citizens left behind in their rush to help
the war effort. These job opportunities, formerly
restricted to people born and raised in the U.S., were
suddenly offered, on a temporary basis, to people born,
raised, fed, clothed, educated, enculturated, and
unemployed or underemployed outside of the United States.
Responding to cries of labor shortages among the nation's
producers of food and fiber, various agencies and
decision-making bodies within the U.S. government
organized, legalized, and administered the Mexican Bracero
Program, which ran from 1943 to 1964, and the BWI Temporary
Alien Labor Program, which continues today, forty years
later.
During the war years these programs stimulated little
controversy. Few people in either private or public
sectors of U.S. society and economy, including spokesman
for organized labor, accused these few thousand foreign
workers of displacing U.S. workers from jobs or depressing
wages and working conditions. Besides, two years after the
war's end, in 1947, the number of agricultural laborers
admitted from the British West Indies fell by around
10,000, to 3,722. In 1949, the number fell even further,
to 2,763. This absolute decline of BWI workers, however,
did not mean that U.S. citizens were returning to work in
the fields. Instead, in the post-war years, it was largely


23
mechanization of agriculture that was responsible for the
destruction of these jobs.
Nevertheless not all agricultural harvests have been
mechanized with the same speed and labor saving efficiency.
South Florida's sugar cane fields, for example, are soft
and mucky, formerly vast swamps, today disappearing due to
oxidation at a rate of around an inch per year. These
soils prohibit the use of machine harvesters used by
Louisiana sugar producers (these huge machines squash young
ratoons which grow into the following year's crop).
Regarding the apple harvests, no machine has yet been
successfully tested which can climb trees and gently pick
easily bruised fruit with the delicacy of the human hand.
In addition to the lack of fully mechanized harvest in
these agribusinesses, other developments affecting U.S.
agricultural production during the post-war years also
served to slow the extent to which mechanization undermined
the availability and number of jobs for agricultural
laborers. The sophistication of drainage and irrigation
technology, fertilizers, hybridization breakthroughs,
improved refining, storage and packaging techniques, more
rapid and complex systems of transport, the development of
new products, expanding domestic and overseas markets
during the rising post-war prosperity in the developed
world all contributed to an expansion of acreage planted in
food and fiber crops. Consequently, more agricultural


24
labor was needed for the production of those agricultural
products that were harvested primarily by human energy.
South Florida sugar producers and U.S. Northeast apple
producers, the principal agricultural producers in the U.S.
utilizing BWI laborers today, taking part in this more
general period of progress, thus needed more and more
workers for their harvests, workers which purportedly could
not be found or relied upon in the domestic labor market.
In 1950 the number of workers imported from the islands
began to rise.
Table 2-1
Numbers of H-2 Visa BWI Workers Admitted Into The United
States: 1950 1975
Year
Number of Workers
1950
6,255
1955
6,616
1960
9,820
1965
10,917
1970
11,887
1975
12,813
Source: U.S.
Congress/Senate 1978 :
In 1981, the U.S. Department of Labor certified 14,735
British West Indians for work in South Florida (U.S.
Employment service, 1982).
How, in the face of rising domestic unemployment, can
these U.S. government agencies justify the continued
admittance of British West Indians for employment in the
United States? The most apparent reason for this is
offered by the Employment and Training Administration of


25
the United States Department of Labor, the government
agency which administers the BWI program. According to the
ETA, growers desiring access to this BWI labor force have
to satisfy two criteria: first, they must demonstrate that
the admission of BWI workers will not adversely affect
domestic farm laborers' wages or working conditions and,
second, they must, through active recruitment campaigns,
demonstrate that there exists no sufficient domestic labor
force to harvest their crops (U.S. Department of Labor,
1978). Satisfying both these criteria requires the active
involvment of local, state, regional, and the national
offices of the U.S. Department of Labor. Personnel from
the branch offices inspect housing conditions in the labor
camps, aid in the recruitment campaign for domestic workers
by advertising these farm labor jobs in their files, and
act as liaison people between the national DOL office and
the growers in the certification process. The national
office determines the wages and piece rates which are to be
paid to both domestic and foreign workers. Until 1981,
according to the ETA, the national office determined the
so-called "adverse effect wage rates," or the actual wage
and piece rates paid the workers, on the basis of a
Department of Agriculture publication entitled Farm Labor.
Farm Labor published survey materials that gave a state by
state average annual wage rate paid to field and livestock
workers. Taking, for example, Farm Labor's rate for the


26
State of New Hampshire during 1979 and 1980 and calculating
the percentage increase in the average annual wage rate
from one year to the next, the national office then added
the percentage increase onto the 1980 wage rate to
determine the rate for 1981 for New Hampshire. This rate
was then paid to the Jamaicans who picked apples in 1981.
It was also paid to Jamaicans who picked apples in New
Hampshire in 1982. In 1982, however, the same rate was
paid to Jamaican apple and sugar workers, not because there
had been no percentage increase in average annual wage
rates from 1980 to 1981, but because the Department of
Agriculture publication, Farm Labor, and its information
about wage rates, no longer existed due to U.S. Government
budget cuts.
These are the principal components of the U.S.
government bureaucracy annually involved in the BWI
program. Since 1943, U.S. agribusinesses have been able to
satisfy the criteria of no adverse effects and have been
unsuccessful in their efforts to recruit domestic farm
labor. According to the Florida Fruit and Vegetable
Association, Florida sugar producers annually spend around
$15,000 on recruitment campaigns directed toward domestic
farm labor (McCoy and Wood, 1982). Year after year these
campaigns have failed to produce an adequate, reliable, or
willing domestic labor force for sugar cane harvests. The
New England Apple Council annually publishes statistics


showing that between the beginning and end of the apple
harvest in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusettes, New
Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, only around 20% of the
originally hired domestic labor force worked the entire
season. Most of the domestic laborers who quit do so
before the harvest is six days old (New England Apple
Council, 1980, 1981, 1892). Apple industry representatives
for growers in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and New
York publish similar findings (Reubens, 1979).
But the question of whether or not a domestic labor
force exists to cut sugar cane and pick apples has not been
answered to everyone's satisfaction. The sugar and apple
growers maintain that no reliable domestic labor force
exists and appeal to statistics compiled and published by
growers and their representatives to support their
purported need for British West Indian labor. Yet many
organizations and agencies in the U.S., particularly since
the beginning of the 1970s, have legally questioned the
implications contained in these statistics. In 1973, the
United Farm Workers attempted to obtain an injunction
against the importation of foreign workers for the Florida
sugar cane harvest, claiming the sugar corporations were
lax in their efforts to recruit domestic cane cutters. The
UFW was defeated in court, primarily because of testimony
stating U.S. citizens simply could not do the work because
of a "social taboo" (Shabecoff, 1973: 24). In a series of


28
court cases brought against the growers since 1977, the
U.S. Department of Labor has attempted to provide a
domestic labor force for the sugar and apple harvests by
bringing in workers from various parts of the United
States, including Puerto Rico, but has usually failed to
have these actions legally upheld by court decisions.
In these cases, sugar and apple growers base their
denial of relying on a domestic labor force on past
experience. Grower-funded publications tell us that year
after year, although a full contingent of domestic workers
may begin the apple harvest, at least 70% of this domestic
labor force quits in the first five days of the harvest.
With Jamaican labor, however, the situation is quite
different. The Jamaicans are, in the terminology used by
the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S.
Department of Labor, a "captive labor force." They cannot
choose to move on to new and subjectively better jobs.
They are certified to work for a single emplyoyer, and they
cannot legally work anywhere else in the United States.
They can go back home if they so desire, or "run away,"
becoming illegal aliens. But if they wish to work legally
in the U.S., they must work for the single employer with
whom they have signed a contract. Domestic workers, on the
other hand, have the freedom of movement to move on to
better jobs and, according to grower publications, usually
do move on to better jobs. The captive nature of the


29
Jamaican work force thus assures the apple and sugar
growers that their crops will be harvested and it is this
aspect of the Jamaicans which primarily underlies the
growers' preferences for Jamaicans over domestic labor.
But this is not the only reason. The Jamaicans also
constitute a much more docile and accommodating work force
than domestic laborers, because if they act up at all,
attempt to unionize or strike, for example, the growers
will not call them back the following year. And, even
though the apple and sugar harvest may be undesirable
occupations among U.S. citizens, among the Jamaicans,
products of a poor country without employment opportunities
as relatively high-paying as these U.S. agricultural jobs,
these occupations are highly desirable.
The final and perhaps most convincing argument used by
the growers to gain access to this labor force concerns the
specific characteristics of the labor force and the
structure of the work setting. In Florida especially, the
work setting requires the mobilization and transfer of
eight to nine thousand men who are willing to work without
their families for five months out of the year, and who can
conveniently disappear at the end of the harvest. This
kind and scale of labor mobilization and transfer would be
difficult or impossible to achieve by relying on the U.S.
domestic labor market. Because the BWI workers come
predominantly from Caribbean peasantries, their own farms


30
and households can support them between sugar and apple
harvests, and while they are gone the other members of
their households can care for their farms. Thus, while the
U.S. domestic labor market may be unable to accomodate the
needs of growers, the Jamaican peasantry, as a labor
market, satisfies growers' needs.
The State and Recruitment in Jamaica
In Jamaica, the state is no less instrumental than the
DOL in the annual process of reproducing the program. U.S.
apple growers can request 100% of thier workers to return
annually. However, U.S. sugar growers can only request 60%
of their foreign workers to return each year. McCoy and
Wood describe the relationships that exist between the
sending governments and the sugar industry as follows:
For its part, the sugar industry seeks to restrict
participation to those workers who have demonstrated their
reliability and productivity during previous seasons. The
island governments, on the other hand, feel the need to
keep the opportunity open to as many of their citizens as
possible. The existence of these competing interests has
led to the institutionalization of a compromise recruiting
procedure. The arrangement balances the growers'
preference for a stable, experienced worker force with the
desires of the BWI governments to spread participation in
the migratory stream around among their populations. (1982:
8)
In Jamaica, in the spring of every year, job cards are
sent out from the Ministry of Labour in Kingston to


31
Ministers of Parliament throughout the island. These job
cards are passes into a three to four hour session in the
parish capitals where U.S. agribusiness representatives
meet with job card recipients and select from these
gatherings their labor pool. The job cards are chances at
employment in the U.S., not guarantees. They are scarce,
highly desired slips of paper representing not only the
possible chance to work in the U.S. but to acquire access
to the goods the U.S. has to offer and to have, for perhaps
the first time in their lives, steady incomes with which to
purchase those goods. The men who receive them protect
them with brown paper or plastic wrappings and handle them
as delicately as a single surviving photograph of a dead
mother.
Overtly, the system of job card distribution follows
lines of political patronage throughout the island.
Ministers of Parliament receive their quotas of cards from
the Ministry of Labour and Employment and pass them to
their appointed liaison officers and councillors within
their constituencies. Minister's quotas change annually
but the rural MPs receive more cards than urban ones, given
the agricultural bias of the program. The MP for Northeast
Manchester, for example, received 276 job cards in 1982.
On the local or district level in the countryside, the
political party action groups are called committees and
each district has both Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) and


32
People's National Party (PNP) committees. If the MP is a
JLP member, it will be local JLP committees who receive the
cards from the MP's liaison officers and councillors.
These committee members are the men and women who actualy
hand the cards out to the Jamaican men who meet with the
U.S. agribusiness representatives. Along with the job
cards the committee members receive a sheet of paper
describing characteristics which they are to use to select
workers. Workers are supposed to be between the ages of 21
and 45, for example, have muscular builds, be reliable
workers, and so on.
But when dealing with a social resource as highly
desired as job cards, these selection criteria and the neat
structuring of the system of job card distribution yield
ground the to nepotism, favoritism, promises, achievement,
sympathy, kindness, bribery. As the following table
Indicates, although the primary sources of job cards are
committees, nearly 40% come from other sources:
Table 2-2
Sources of Job Cards (n=45)
Source Percent
of population
Commit tee
61.3
Minister of Parliament
12.9
From another person
who first received card
12.9
Justice of Peace
6.5
Ministry of Labour
6.5


33
There are indications that on the local level the
strongest determinants of the handing out of job cards are
largely familial or fami1i a1 1ike in nature. The incidence
of committee members giving job cards to their sons,
step-sons, nephews, brothers, cousins, and other male
friends and relatives is high. Around 70% of the workers
in my sample have had brothers, cousins, fathers and sons
who have also received job cards. Another 20% received
their cards because of friendship ties, either directly or
indirectly through fathers or uncles who received the cards
because they were friends with some politician or other
involved in the job card network.
Table 2-3
Connections for Job Cards
Conne c tion
Percent of population
Kinship
68.5
Friendship
20.3
None
11.1
Other strategies of gaining access to these cards include
working for political party elections, giving labor free to
committee members, outright cash expenditures (tips) to
committee members, or committee members keeping the cards
for themselves. Moreover, the system of job card
distribution does not always end with the politicians (see
table 2-2, row 3). Once the committee members and other


34
politicians have parted with their cards, around a month
before meeting with U.S. agribusiness representatives, the
favors, debts, rights, obligations, and so on which come
into play are demonstrative of the desperation and
ingenuity which the rural poor so often draw upon to gain
access to scarce social resources. As evidence of the
desperation involved, one woman told me of a case where a
son threatened to kill his own father if his father failed
to give him the card he received from the committee.
Extreme and unimaginative means such as these, however, are
reported with much less frequency than cases of men
offering free of immediate charge their labor, time,
donkeys, spray pumps and other resources at their disposal
in order to cultivate connections with individuals who have
potential access to the job cards.
The resourcefulness and ingenuity of these Jamaican
men trying to get job cards is all the more admirable, as
well as more evidently desperate, when one considers that
these cards guarantee nothing. As noted previously, all
these cards do is let the men into a session where they
meet with representatives of the Florida Fruit and
Vegetable Association, the Jamaican Ministry of Labour and
the U.S. sugar corporations that hire the workers. This
team of selectors further trims the list of men eligible
for the program. How many names they put on the list which
constitutes the labor pool depends on how many men they


happen to need in a given year. By what objective or
subjective criteria these sugar industry representatives
decide to select or reject Jamaicans only the
representatives themselves can say, but the time they spend
with each man cannot be more than a few minutes. For
thirteen days, for an average of three to four hours per
day, these selectors visit one parish capital per day and
meet with between 300 and 400 Jamaican men a day. No more
than six or seven of this team actually interview the
workers. According to the workers, these six or seven
interviewers check the hands, eyes and teeth of the
Jamaican men and ask them a few questions like, "Can you
eat rice and pork every day for five months?" or "Can you
work all day seven days a week?" or "Have you ever cut
sugar cane before?" The check of the hands is supposedly a
means to determine a background of agricultural laboring
which causes a roughness and callousness to form over the
palms and fingers. The check of the eyes and teeth
evidently is some indication of general bodily health. If
they pass this verbal and physical screening, they are
subjected to a more rigorous physical examination in
Kingston and in their parish capitals on subsequent
occasions.
To give an indication of what these screening sessions
are like, on May 14, 1982, in a small park in Mandeville,
capital of the parish of Manchester, around three hundred


36
to four hundred men gathered, beginning at 6:00 AM, to
await the arrival of these sugar industry and Jamaican
government representatives. They showed up early, standing
around in groups of four and five, taking part in the
general tension and anxiety coursing through the crowd.
Around 7:30, three identical silver Honda Accords pulled
into the park. These contained the men from the FFVA and
the U.S. sugar corporations. Twenty minutes later, a
copper colored van bearing the Ministry of Labour insignia
pulled into the park, loaded with bureaucrats toting forms
in triplicate and other cumbersome paraphernalia.
Subsequently, the men filed through for their short
sessions with the FFVA and sugar industry representatives.
Then and there they were told whether they passed or failed
this initial screening, but even those who passed were not
assured of U.S. employment. They still had to pass the
medical tests and even then their names might have been
placed on a list of replacement cane cutters and apple
pickers, called only in the event of another worker meeting
an accident overseas. So even after all their jockeying
for political favor and job cards, the chance exists still
that they will not be called for employment in the U.S.


37
Recruitment and the Characteristics of the Labor Pool
Because the nature of job card distribution determines
the character of the labor pool from which U.S.
agribusinesses draw their men, any attempt to improve upon
the program by selecting for "desirable" characteristics
among the Jamaican men must acknowledge this discrepancy
between national and local level priorities, affiliations,
goals, and loyalties. What is of primary importance in
this study, however, is not the potential of an improved
program but the empirical dynamics of the program as it
exists today. It is within such empirical analysis, and by
virtue of empirical analysis alone, that we are able to
understand and subsequently determine what improvements in
the program are possible. Consequently the question we
must ask of job card distribution is this: What does it
tell us about the current complexion of the labor pool
which fuels this program?
Recent research on the socioeconomic backgrounds of
international and internal labor migrants tells us that
they tend not to come from the poorest strata of rural
society. Because of the high costs associated with
international travel and settlement in a foreign country,
extremely poor peasant farmers simply cannot acquire enough
money to make such a move. Instead, international labor


38
migrants tend to come from somewhat richer, better
educated, and generally more experienced members of rural
life, their migration being yet another step in the
continuing attempts at improving their already relatively
higher standards of living. Kemper, studying internal
migrants from Tzintzuntzan to Mexico City, found that
migration from the country to the city was not a single,
blind, desperate move but was instead based upon a dynamic
of social and financial support from the household of
origin to households, often related, at destinations within
Mexico City (1977). Such necessary connections are usually
cultivated through long, intergenerational social
positioning which draws upon the prior resourcefulness and
existing social connections of grandparents, parents,
siblings, and direct and mutual friends in both
Tzintzuntzan and Mexico City. Portes (1979), studying
illegal Mexican migrantas in Texas, found that they were
generally better educated than the norm of Mexican rural
society. Ransford Palmer describes the long-term Caribbean
immigrants to New York and other ares of the Eastern
seaboard as containing a high percentage of people from
skilled technical and professional fields (1976).
Bonacich, Light and Wong (1977), studying Korean immigrants
to Los Angelos, and Reichert (1981) and Dinerraan (1978,
1980) in Mexico also come to similar conclusions concerning
the backgrounds of migrants.


39
The logic common to these studies is that poor
households cannot finance migration. The Jamaican men who
travel to the U.S. to work in this program, however, do not
have to spend much of their households' money to do so.
Beyond nominal transportation fares between their home
districts, parish capitals, and Kingston for the initial
selection and medical tests and finally the flight to the
U.S., the burden of the costs associated with travel and
settlement are initially borne by the Government of Jamaica
and the U.S. apple and sugar companies for whom these
Jamaican men work. Free housing is provided for the men,
board costs are deducted from their fortnightly paychecks
and their air fare is paid by their employers as long as
they work for at least one half of the contract period
(Agreement for the Employment of British West Indians In
Agricultural Work in the United States of America, Form A,
1982: Clauses 5a and 5f). Without having to bear the heavy
transportation and settlement costs associated with an
international move, it is conceivable that men from
relatively impoverished households can participate in this
program.
The Jamaican men who come to the U.S. to work in this
program, however, do not come from the poorest strata of
Jamaican society. The reasons for this are clear. First,
the poorest of the Jamaican poor tend to be women household
heads and especially urban women household heads (Chaney,


40
1982). The obvious male and rural bias to this program
precludes these members of Jamaican society from
participation in the program. Second, in order to pass the
tests of U.S. selectors, these men must maintain an
appearance of strength, adequate nutrition, and other
visible characteristics associated with physical fitness.
Subsequent medical test must uphold the largely subjective
decisions of these U.S. selectors. This, however, does
little to diminish the male population eligible for the
program: distended stomachs, brittle hair, wasting away,
skin disorders and other visible characteristics associated
with debilitating nutritional deficiencies are highly
uncommon among Jamaican men over the age of 20. While
Chaney argues that "the principal dietary problem is
insufficient proteins and calories available to the poorest
70 percent of the population," she also says, "only 0.9%
could be classified as severely malnourished" (Chaney,
1982: 2-4). Most of these are young children. Finally, to
get job cards, participants in the program must in most
cases have either direct or indirect kinship or friendship
ties with local political party committee members, or else
must be able to devote time and energy to the cultivation
of these connections. In the Jamaican countryside, the
extremely poor, often landless peasants and rural
proletariat, usually do not have these ties and cannot
devote time to their cultivation. Two findings support


41
this: 1) the Jamaicans most qualified to cut sugar cane,
those who are professional cane cutters, represent only 20%
(see table 2-4) of the U.S. cane cutting labor force, and
professional Jamaican cane cutters are among the poorest
landless rural proletariat in Jamaica; and 2) the kinds of
land tenure arrangements which tend to characterize poor
Jamaican peasants (service tenure and sharecropping) are
practiced by only 1% of the U.S. cane cutting labor force
(see table 2-5) (McCoy and Wood, 1982; Beckford, 1972;
Griffith, 1979).
Table 2-4
Experience Cutting Sugar Cane (n=206)
Expe rience
Percent of population
None
58.3
On own farm
21.1
Professional
18.1
Own farm and
professional
1 .5
Professional on
another island
.5
Home Land Tenure
Table 2-5
Among Jamaican Workers In South Florida
(n=206 )
Form of Tenure
percent of population
Own
27 .2
Lease/rent
31.6
Sharecropping
1 1
Family land
27.4
Other
6.5


While the Jamaican men who participate in the program
do not come from the poorest strata of Jamaican society,
neither do they tend to come from households capable of
financing their members' migration and settlement in a
foreign country. They must be connected to or be capable
of establishing connections with local political figures,
but most often, for politically strategic reasons, these
local political figures at the district or committee level
are not much better off than the farm workers who travel to
the U.S. in the program. Indeed, many of the committee
members either give their job cards to brothers, nephews,
sons, step-sons or other male household members or keep the
cards for themselves. Nevertheless the committee members,
and by extension the recipients of job cards, are at least
loosely or indirectly connected to the Jamaican power
structure. This connection constitutes a social resource
with the potential of yielding not only jobs in the United
States but also such things as access to credit,
agricultural extension services, development programming
(i.e., aid monies and materials from Norway, New Zealand,
England, Germany, the U.S. and other developed countries),
government job contracts and so on. Whether they get these
job cards by their own resourcefulness or by being the son
of a committee member, eventual possession of them is
evidence that these farm workers have direct and indirect


access to Jamaica's social resources. Social resources,
throughout this work, refer to the resources a society has
which provide access to social forces of production, to
investment opportunities, employment opportunities, and
markets. In addition to job cards, they include, for
example, credit institutions, agricultural extension
services, lawyers, politicians, and administrators of
marketing centers. They can also Include influential
people who can provide access to economic opportunities.
Norman Long refers to this access to social resources
as "the strategic placement" of individuals within their
broader social systems (Long, 1977: 135). Other social
scientists studying peasants in recent years have referred
to this strategically placed segment of rural peasant
society by other terms and phrases but the importance of
these designations is usually the same: it is from these
strategically placed rural households that we expect to
find, and do in fact find, the highest levels of
entrepreneurship among the peasantry (Long, 1977; Long and
Richardson, 1978; Pearse, 1975; Migdal, 1976; Cook, 1983).
These peasants with the highest degrees of access to social
resources, either because of preexisting kinship and
friendship ties or by virtue of their own cunning and
ingenuity, tend to be the same peasants who innovate,
experiment, invest their time, energy, and money, and
utilize all the social and economic resources at their


44
disposal to better their standards of living and in some
cases create viable, growth-oriented, profit-generating
economic enterprises. In these endeavors, of course, the
social system within which they operate must cooperate to
some extent. Such socially advantageous situations,
however, are rare among the peasantry, and the social
systems in which they act more often hinder than help their
entreprenuerial activities. This is partly because of a
misunderstanding of the dynamics of peasant
entrepreneurship and partly because of the demands of a
broader social order which dictates poverty to many for the
maintenance of the wealth of a few. Nor does development
programming as it exists today and has existed for the past
thirty years tap this peasant resourcefulness, given the
documented failures of development programs throughout the
Third World under the rubric of the Green Revolution during
the 1950s and 60s and aid agencies such as USAID today
(Hewitt de Alcantara, 1976; Belshaw, 1976; Spicer, 1952;
Paul, 1955). The most innovative, creative, experimental
and ingenious of peasant entrepreneurs are not necessarily
or automatically the most receptive to development
programming. Although they usually will take advantage of
some of the services a development project has to offer,
peasant entrepreneurs, numerous social scientists have
demonstrated, are often more knowledgeable about the local
social setting, economic, and ecological constraints and


potentials than the so-called "experts" (whom the late
Solon Kimball defined as "someone from out of town").
Moreover, rural development programming is usually
agricultural development programming and little or no
attention is given to the documented attempts of peasants
to search for nonagricultural investments in such areas as
crafts production (Cook, 1983), transportation, middleman
functions, and so on (Pearse, 1975; Burchard, 1974).
Just because the Jamaican men who participate in this
program have access to these job cards and other social
resources, however, does not lead automatically to an
assumption of an ingenious population of peasants coming to
the U.S. to work. Most of these men, remember, acquire job
cards by virtue of preexisting kinship and friendship
connections. That they take advantage of the particular
social resource of job cards is no indication that they
will take advantage of other social resources. Nor is it
any indication they will put the money they make in the
U.S. to uses which generate future standard of living
increases. Surely some can and some do. However,
allegiances and influences change within the Jamaican power
structure and these are felt at the district level.
Nevertheless, the element of strategic placement and the
potential for entrepreneurship characterizes these seasonal
farm workers to the U.S. With all the overseas money they
make annually, around three to four thousand U.S. dollars


46
per worker per year, it is appropriate to assume, for the
purpose of social scientific investigation, that they enjoy
higher standards of living and finance, and engineer more
productive economic enterprises than their rural peasant
brethren whom they leave behind.


CHAPTER III
AN ETHNOGRAPHIC OVERVIEW OF A CENTRAL JAMAICAN PEASANTRY
A Portrait of a Jamaican Peasant
It is before dawn and although Lenworth is still in
bed he has not been asleep for hours. A fog has thickened
during the night, reaching from the valley floor to above
the ridge, making the air damp and cool. The foot-worn,
bare, shiny concrete of the floor feels smooth and cool as
he slips from the double bed where his wife and their three
youngest children still sleep. The youngest child, a girl,
is two weeks old. There is no clock in the room and
Lenworth does not have to look at his wristwatch to know
that first light is less than an hour away. Through the
blue and green length of cloth that hangs in the doorway to
the next room he can hear his three other children
breathing, sleeping on blankets on the floor. Two of the
four rooms of his rough concrete block house are suitable
for living, but the room in which he sleeps is the only one
that is completed. The next room needs a jalousie window
in the space that is now boarded over, and a bed for the
children.


48
In two hours the July sun will have burned off the fog
and Lenworth will be waiting in Christiana outside the
office of the Director. The Director has three weeks of
work which consists of clearing away the tall grass around
the young pine trees along a northeast facing slope In the
Yankee Valley, across the asphalt road from Lenworth's
home. The Director promised Lenworth the work a month ago
but now the Community Development Officer is trying to give
the contract to a friend with whom he worked in the last
election.
Although it is still dark Lenworth does not light the
kerosene lamp on the dresser at the foot of the bed. The
room is small, ten by twelve feet, and Lenworth moves to
the front door in three strides and steps outside. He
stands in the gray dust of the unfinished block veranda,
inhaling the cool air carrying odors of farm animals and
bougainvillea and wet grass. He wears only a pair of
shorts. On his chest there are patches of tight, curly
hair. Soon the houses along the road will start their
morning fires and he will smell coffee and woodsmoke and
yams roasting. Somewhere far away a cock crows and
Lenworth thinks that a mongoose in the grass wakes to note
the cock's position. He stands looking at his two young
goats tethered to a breadfruit tree and hopes he will not
have to sell them to buy rice and flour and condensed milk.


He calls them his doctor bills. It would be a crime to
have to sell them for anything less than an emergency.
Lenworth walks over to the goats and consoles them.
His eldest son, Isra, will take them down to the summer
flowers and grass by the river before he leaves for school.
The goats press against him. Lenworth's skin is deep
black, as black as a Bible's cover, and when he stands he
is five feet nine and finely muscled from work in the
fields. The toes of his feet are splayed from walking
barefoot and his hands are rough and caloused.
Lenworth leaves the goats to walk through the four
square chains of garden around his house. He and Barbara
have planned the planting and care of the garden so it will
bear some kind of food during every month of the year.
Daily they can count on small yields of casava and yam for
the household. Soon they will have jack fruit and
breadfruit, just as the fruit of the sour sap tree begins
thinning. The sorrel plants are young now. At Christmas,
Barbara will squeeze the fruits into a sweet red
traditional drink. He stoops to the youngest of the yam
vines, their new growth smooth and purple. Behind them,
further down the slope, crooked stakes support the thorny
vines of yams that are ready to eat. Between these are a
few banana and plantain trees and seven small coffee trees.
Along the side of the house are patches of sweet potato,
pok chow, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and thyme, and in


50
front there are twelve pineapple plants in a small space
ringed with begonia. Lenworth has five young ganja plants
which he is watching to determine whether they are male or
female. The males he will pull up to increase the potency
of the female s.
Around the side of the house, below the jalousie
window of the room where Lenworth sleeps, a rusted oil drum
stands with a twelve inch wide sheet of corregated zinc
rising from the water in the drum. Lenworth rounds the
house to the drum and dips a red plastic cup into the water
and drinks. Already the eastern sky is brightening. In
the pale light, the yellowing whites of Lenworth's eyes are
the color of the grayish tan smoke from burning sugar cane.
On Lenworth's chin is a small, square beard, and the tight
curls of his hair on his head are cropped close. His skin
conforms closely to his high, protruding cheek bones.
Between these his broad nose's nostrils angle up and back.
He is missing a front tooth.
He hears, inside, his wife Barbara stirring from bed.
Through the window he watches her leave the house, carrying
a machete. She walks around the other side of the house,
crosses the stamped smooth dirt of the back yard into the
field of yams behind the house that slopes down into the
valley. She digs down under the yam vines and severs a
piece of yam from the huge root. Finishing, she joins
Lenworth at the drum and drinks from the same cup. She is


51
five inches shorter than Lenworth, lighter skinned, still
overweight in the aftermath of pregnancy. The hem of her
full-length, light blue robe is the red of the soil and
frayed from dragging along the ground.
The small, rectangular wood structure behind them, now
their kitchen, used to be attached to a seven room wooden
house that they have since dismantled for firewood. It
belonged to Lenworth's mother, whose grave is marked in the
yard with a concrete slab. She has been dead less than a
year. During the last years of her life she lived with
Lenworth and Barbara. She saw Lenworth travel to Canada
for two years to work in a cannery and saw him use his
earnings to build the four room concrete block house. He
was not called back after the second year and the
construction of the house had to stop. Just before she
died she saw him begin travelling to the United States as a
farm worker.
The bottoms of the slabs around the the kitchen are
jagged, rotting, insect-eaten, rust-colored where they
touch the ground and soak up its moisture. Barbara crosses
from the drum to the kitchen and, inside, selects wood for
the morning fire. In the rear of the kitchen, on a metal
lid from an oil drum on a shelf, she builds the fire.
Smoke fills the kitchen, seeping through the cracks in the
kitchen wall and above through the ill-fitted shingles of
the roof


5 2
Lenworth is inside now, dressing for the meeting with
the Director. His finest clothes he keeps in a suitcase on
top of the tall cardboard wardrobe that stands in the
corner beside the door. Inside this same suitcase he and
Barbara keep their most important papers and records: the
title to two pieces of land, Lenworth's now expired
driver's license, Barbara's savings account pass book
showing a balance of two dollars, the identification card
Lenworth used when he travelled to Canada and a similar
card and pay slips from his two years as a farm worker in
South Florida. His second youngest child, a boy of four
years, breathes irregularly on the bed in the same room.
He has a slight cold. Lenworth treates the cold with a
mixture of myrrh, ganja, water, and white rum. Lenworth
believes that the ganja has the same effect as penicillin.
From the suitcase he takes his only pair of slacks
which do not have holes in them and a blue knit sport
shirt. If he were going to work in the fields he would be
dressing in the black ragged slacks and t-shirt that are
draped over a small wooden bench outside the door. He
wishes this thing with the Director and the Community
Development Officer had not occurred because he needs to
plant some yam heads on the three square plot of land by
the airstrip. Barbara could do it if she were not still
recovering from childbirth. The moon is right for the
planting.


53
There is enough light in the room from the sun now
that he can see himself in the mirror above the dresser.
Taped to the mirror are yellowing snapshots. Below these,
on the dresser's top, sit jars of Vaseline and lotions and
a tin of powder for the newborn. Lenworth adjusts his
beret in the mirror, slanting it to the side, and then goes
outside to join Barbara for breakfast. She hands him a
plate of roasted yam mixed with a small portion of salt
fish and a single slice of white bread. He has coffee in a
tin cup, sweetened and clouded with canned milk. Barbara
has only coffee .
They speak of the meeting with the Director. Lenworth
tells her that he needs a letter to show the Community
Development Officer. The letter must be signed by the
Director and must say that the work was promised to
Lenworth. The Director knew Lenworth's maternal
grandfather and Lenworth hopes that this will help the
Director decide in Lenworth's favor. Barbara knows that
once Lenworth has mentioned his grandfather he will begin
on the subject of his father's side of the family, most of
whom are in England. At fifteen Lenworth's father tried to
get Lenworth to England but could not acquire the necessary
papers. Lenworth is thirty-three years old and has not
seen his father for twenty-two years. He still regrets
that bad luck with the papers. In England, now, he has two
half-sisters who are nurses and a half-brother who drives a


54
bread truck. His father works in the bakery which supplies
the truck.
The sun is full now and the heat of the day beginning
to create waves of thick vapor from the green of the
valley. Soon the first taxi heading to Christiana will
pass. The kitchens along the road, beside their houses,
are now all beginning to send up smoke through the thatch
or around the zinc of their roofs. Inside the house the
children are waking up. Isra steps from the house in his
khaki school uniform and takes the two goats down the
footpath to the river. Barbara fetches the newborn and
suckles her. Gloria, Daphne, and Narissa, the other three
girls, step outside dressed in the 1ight-co 1 ored blouses
and navy blue smocks that Barbara sewed by hand. She
purchased the cloth In Christiana from a store owned by a
Syrian family. The money came from selling three hundred
pounds of yellow yam to Gwen, the higgler who owns a rum
shop by the airstrip. The last one out of the house is
Karl, the four year old with the cold. He is bare from the
waist down and the front of his striped shirt is in rags.
He has a round chubby face and small features like his
mo the r .
Lenworth has finished his breakfast and while the
others eat he goes into the unfinished room inside the
house and takes a paint can from the corner. Inside the
silver can are ganja and a portion of a brown paper grocery


bag. He tears off a section of the paper, fills it with
around one-quarter ounce of ganja, and rolls it into a
four-inch, cone shaped cigar, twisting the large end
closed. With the unlit cigar in his mouth he puts on his
tennis shoes and moves from the house to the kitchen to
light the cigar with a stick from the fire. Isra has
returned from tethering the goats. Lenworth tells him that
he must return directly home from school and then meet him
at the yam ground by the airstrip. They have to plant yams
and cut stakes for the vines from the brush near the IRDP's
fenceline.
From the road now, a half-mile away, come the sounds
of the light blue Hillman that will carry Lenworth to
Christiana. There are two taxis that travel the road
between Christiana and Silent Hill and always Lenworth
rides in the Hillman because it is owned by a friend of
his. He climbs the path to the road, ten yards away,
reaching the road just as the Hillman rounds the bend. As
he gets into the car he feels good that he is finally going
to meet with the Director.
Lenworth and his family live in the Two Meetings
Watershed in central Jamaica. The above description was
designed to give the reader a general impression of some
aspects of Jamaican peasant life. The following discussion
presents information on the physical, social, and economic
environment in which Lenworth and his family live.


56
The Two Meetings Watershed
Until early in 1983, the Two Meetings Watershed had
been one of the two sites of the USAID/Ministry of
Agriculture 2nd Integrated Rural Development Project
(IRDP), a project begun in 1977 with the aid of the
Norwegian government and subsequently funded by USAID fromn
1978 to 1983. According to Peace Corps volunteers and
USAID personnel, early in 1983, some accounting
discrepancies were discovered, funds allocated for specific
works projects had mysteriously disappeared, the project
crumpled and USAID pulled out. The former project's
southern boundary begins about a half-hour's ride by
minibus north of Mandeville, the bauxite mining boom town
and the country's largest inland city, capital of the
parish of Manchester. The watershed itself extends into
small sections of four parishes: N.E. Manchester, N.W.
Clarendon, S.W. St. Ann, and S.E. Trelawney. Shown a map
of Jamaica, someone asked to point to the dead center of
the island would probably come pretty close to the Two
Meetings Watershed. This central location accounts in
large part for the wide variety of foodstuffs and other
goods sold on Fridays and Saturdays in the peasant markets
in Christiana and Spaldings, the two major marketing
centers within the watershed. In addition to these


57
commercial centers, the watershed encompasses all or
portions of the smaller towns of Dump, Alston, Lorrimers,
Wild Cane, Bohemia, Moravia and Silent Hill. Such towns
are characterized by one to four small grocery stores (rum
shops), a bakery, a postal agency, a church, a school,
perhaps a ginger merchant or a banana boxing plant. In
all, there are around nineteen districts in the watershed,
the lowest level political divisions in Jamaica. In 1978,
IRDP personnel estimated the watershed's peasant population
to be around 2000 farm families, or around 15,000 people of
all ages. The settlement pattern today follows the road
system, most of the dwellings either on a road or within a
short walking distance of one, and the roads in most cases
follow the ridges atop the valleys that criss-cross the
watershed. A half century ago there was more settlement
along the small rivers on the better farmlands of the
valley bottoms, but today Jamaican peasants face the world.
Footpaths connect roads with other roads, houses with
fields and other houses, follow the small rivers or
sometimes disappear into the underbrush. Roads, footpaths,
and rum shops physically connect peasant households with
one another and with the information, goods and services
disseminating from Spaldings and Christiana and attaching
peasant households to the outside world, usually through
patron-broker-client relationships (Blustain, 1982a). From
Thursday evenings to Saturday afternoons this


58
interdependence of world, town and countryside is
particularly evident: trucks, taxis, minibuses and buses
bring the higglers and owners of rural rum shops into the
commercial centers to sell their produce and buy stock for
their shops. Marketing women descend from these means of
transport laden with burlap and plastic bags of Jamaica's
agricultural produce and an array of domestic and imported
clothing and other petty commodities. The owners of the
rural rum shops load their wholesale wares onto buses and
taxis. Through Christiana and Spaldings, goods from all
over the country and the world filter out into the
surrounding countryside.
Houses, Yards, and People
The peasants' households in the watershed accommodate
and average of six to eight people. Quite often, male
household heads also have one or two children from previous
unions whom they still support. Intergenerationally, this
phenomenon of "outside children" increases the number of
consanguineally related households between which money,
goods, services, and information flow. This biological,
social, and economic overlapping of peasant households is a
salient characteristic of Caribbean peasantries (Gonzalez,
1970; Clarke, 1957; Beckwith, 1929; Mintz, 1974) and is
common as well among peoples living in both rural and urban


59
impoverished conditions (Stack, 1970; 0. Lewis, 1966).
These diffuse kinship networks are adaptive in an
environment where households must combine a variety of
survival strategies as well as provide social security and
other services not provided by the state. At the same
time, such diffuse ties of family within and between
generations often undermine the foundations of capital
accumulation among Jamaican peasants because, quite simply,
too many individuals have some familial claim on whatever
resources funnel into the family network.
These ties between households are not highly visible,
however. The most readily observable family unit consists
of a woman, a man, the children they have had together and
the children the woman has had by other men. Variations on
this general pattern are frequent: it is not uncommon to
find an unmarried daughter with one or two children still
living at home, or a parent of the male or female household
head, or two conjugal or quasi-conjugal unions representing
parent and offspring generations living together with some
of the elder couple's children and most of the younger
couple's children.
Whatever the specific arrangement, the general
evolution of houses and yards which accommodate these
family units, as an ideal, varies little. Establishing a
new household, a young couple will either rent a place or
build a small, single room dwelling, usually of scrap wood,


60
corregated zinc, cut and straightened sides of cans,
bamboo, thatch and whatever other construction materials
they can obtain. If enough construction materials are
available, they will also build a separate structure which
serves as a kitchen. Around these structures the yard
consists of stamped and swept dirt reaching to the edge of
the family garden. These house-and-garden plots are
generally between one-quarter and one-half acre in size.
If all goes well, the house will expand as the family
expands, more elaborate and expensive construction
materials such as cement blocks, cement, reinforcement
rods, sheets of zinc, two-by-fours, jalousie windows, doors
and locks will accumulate and gradually coalesce into a
newer, larger, stronger structure as the cash to hire
masons and carpenters becomes available. Rooms will be
added on at a variable rate depending on income. During
this progression from wood to concrete the former single
room dwelling space will become the kitchen and the former
kitchen will become firewood. As for furnishings, the bed
and cooking ware come first, then a dresser, china cabinet,
tables and chairs and, for the more affluent, light
fixtures, sinks, appliances.
This general evolution is, of course, an ideal. The
actual wealth differences as expressed by house type and
elaborateness of housing vary greatly within the peasant
population of the watershed. Few peasant households have


61
indoor plumbing. A few more, but still a minority, have
electricity. Telephones are virtualy nonexistent among the
peasantry. Refrigerators are rare and stoves rarer. Most
of the cooking is still done over open fires within the
wooden kitchens separate from the sleeping quarters. The
insides of these structures are blackened and freckled with
ash, smoke filled. Firewood and dried yams are shoved up
into one corner in a pile. Along the walls from wooden
pegs hammered into pine beams hang pots and pans, if there
are any. A machete and a mortar and pestle are standard
equipment. Alongside these huts, old rusty oil drums catch
the rain for the family's drinking water.
During the day these kitchens tend to be the centers
of activity for those staying home from the fields. Women
and children gather in and around them, soaking and
squeezing the poison from bitter casava, spreading red peas
or coffee beans on sheets of zinc or strips of cloth or
cardboard in the sun, shelling peas, scraping green
bananas, roasting yellow yam, sorting seed potatoes,
skinning ginger root and piling up the shavings which
crinkle in the dense tropical sunlight. From these
activities mild and pleasant odors of ginger and pepper and
coffee emerge and drift out into the fields where they mix
with other fires' odors and the less appealing smells of
manure and beasts.


62
If there is a single characteristic which accurately
describes the majority of the houses and yards among the
watershed's peasants, it is that they are not yet finished.
The unfulfilled ideal of a fully furnished home which can
comfortably accommodate the entire family is in evidence
everywhere: piles of construction materials with weeds
beginning to grow up around them, skeleton rooms without
windows or doors or ceilings, bare rooms, families of eight
crowded into a single wooden windowless structure with a
thatch roof. The building and furnishing of a house among
the Jamaican peasantry is a number one priority in the
dreams of independence, yet it can easily become a life
long process of sporadic construction followed by years of
such acute poverty that further construction remains
hopeless. Although the squalid, hungry and barren living
conditions described by some scholars familiar with the
Third World's poor (e.g. Heilbroner, 1963) are rarely found
among the Jamaican peasantry, Jamaica's wealthy are the
people whom they compare themselves to, as well as those
closer to their standards of living but wealthier. To tell
them there are people starving in Ethiopia does little to
diminish their relative despair.
But they are not a continually despairing people.
They long for improvement, attempt to improve their
standards of living, but they do not sit around crying
about their poverty. Throughout their four centuries


63
of hardship, they have cultivated a knack for resiliency.
They may be dissatisfied with life and accept their
poverty, fatalists to some degree, occasionally ashamed of
their positions as other peasants around them improve, but
they are not terribly unhapppy, not totally bereft of
satisfaction and feelings of pride and accomplishment. At
dusk their rum shops fill with people playing dominoes,
shooting craps, dancing, listening to music, singing,
drinking and smoking what they believe to be the highest
quality ganja in the Western Hemisphere. At the same time
they can be a dignified, proud, friendly, courteous and
deeply religious people, capable of much generosity in
spite of their poverty.
Yet all societies are fraught with contraditions,
within as well as between socioeconomic classes and groups,
and Jamaica is no exception. To say that Jamaican peasants
or peasants anywhere are essentially cooperative or
essentially autonomous, rugged individuals finds no basis
in reality. Thus, these women and men trade labor and
tools with one another, give and receive food, sex, land,
and mutual aid, and simultaneously gossip maliciously about
one another, envy and mistrust each other, occasionally
cheat and steal from one another. For both cooperation and
antagonism there are historical foundations. Sexual
antagonism runs high. Child abandonment is not uncommon.


64
Verbal agression is widespread but physical aggression
extremely rare.
Phenotypica1ly ranging from deep, deep black to the
lighter shades characterizing the island's mulatto elite,
these peasants are visually quite sensitive to this
continuum of skin color. They routinely invoke their
richness of melanin as a means to explain their relative
poverty within Jamaican society. Many believe they are
poor because racist atitudes of the white society have
functioned to keep them down. A good deal of the
literature on social stratification and pluralism in
Jamaica has served to reinforce such explanations (M.G.
Smith, 1960; Henriques, 1953; Curtin, 1955; Beckford and
Witter, 1981). Most of the peasants in the watershed do in
fact fall at the melanin-rich end of the continuum. There
is no doubt that Jamaica is a highly racist society in
which shades of skin acquire significance in social
interaction and account for some social divisions, as well
as for the attitudes of salf-hatred and mistrust which
quite often surface in conversation. In a rum shop a
Jamaican once laid his arm on the bar next to mine and,
pointing to my arm, said, "This is good." Pointing to his
own arm he said, "This is bad. You give twenty dollar to
this color and you have to fight the man to get it back .
." A little girl told my wife she wanted to go to Canada
so she could bleach out and come back and get a job in a


bank. Another black man told me that he knows when he
deals with blacks, something will go wrong, but whenever he
deals with whites he knows everything will be cool.
Nevertheless, many among the wealthiest families are
as rich in melanin as they are in capital gains. The
ethnic and racial pyramids which recent scholars continue
to draw to depict Jamaican society are no longer nearly as
fine and distinct as their diagrams would lead us to
believe (e.g. Beckford and Witter, 1981: 79). Of all the
barriers to capital accumulation or successful economic
management, skin color is not one of them.
General Characteristics of Peasant Agriculture in The
Watershed
The land which the watershed peasants farm is usually
rocky and steep. A broad deep valley, the Yankee Valley,
runs from the northwest corner of the watershed, beginning
in Trelawney, to the eastern boundary near Alston in the
parish of Clarendon. Numerous smaller valleys run
perpendicular to this and, as in so many other peasant
areas of the world, encompass a wide variety of ecozones
and soil types in a relatively short distance. People far
more knowledgeable about these ecological phenomena than I
have described the area as follows:


66
Topography: Rolling ridges with long steep or moderately
steep slopes. Soils: Halifax Donnington and Wait-A-Bit
clays, are derived from conglomerates, tuffs and shales.
These soils are extremely erodible and low in nutrients,
but they are easily cultivated. The soils are generally
very badly eroded, but the harm is reduced by the rapid
breakdown of the soil. Climate: generally cool and moist
by tropical standards. Average annual rainfall is about
70"; December to March (inclusive) is usually dry; during
the rest of the year there is normally sufficient rain for
crop growth. Winter night temperatures are quite low and
control growth. Altitude: 2000'-3000'. (Edwards, 1961: 51)
The variety of ecozones allows peasants in the watershed to
grow a wide variety of crops and affects to some extent,
along with socioeconomic factors, patterns of land use and
forms of land tenure. Root crops such as yams, coco and
dasheen are grown on virtually all of the farms. There are
a number of variety of yam and for many households they are
the most important crop. Other crops include banana,
coffee, Irish potato, red peas, plantain, bread fruit,
sorrel, sweet potato, chocolate, ginger, corn, carrot,
lettuce, cabbage, tomato, peanuts, chocho, cassava,
pumpkin, avocado pears, jack fruit, oranges, sour sop, pine
trees and marijuana (ganja). Monocropping does not fit
well with production strategies geared toward providing
subsistence for the family as well as growing crops for
sale. All fields are intercropped to some extent. Coffee
and bananas are nearly always planted together. Other
common crop combinations are Irish potato and red peas
during the late winter and spring months and red peas and


corn during the summer months, yellow yams and coco
throughout the year. It is highly typical, however, for a
single field to contain as many as a dozen different crop
varieties. From one informant's field I recorded the
following: lucea yam, yellow yam, barbados yam, negro yam,
red peas and Irish potatoes, carrots sown between the yam
hills, bananas, coffee, coco and dasheen along the drainage
ditches, sugar cane along another edge of the field,
patches here and there of sweet potato, cabbage, tomatoes
and lettuce, a few chocolate trees, a bread fruit tree,
cassava and ganja interspersed throughout the field.
Family gardens are always heavily intercropped; fields
planted primarily in cash crops usually are as well.
Among the crops grown primarily for sale are Irish
potatoes, red peas, banana, coffee, carrot, lettuce,
cabbage, tomato, chocolate and peanuts. Marijuana and yams
are produced for home use and for sale, depending on the
market, and the others listed above tend to be grown
primarily for home use. Which crops are grown for sale
primarily and which for home use varies from parish to
parish, however, and these generalizations concerning cash
crops and subsistence crops apply to the Two Meetings
Watershed. With the exception of donkeys and mules, most
livestock in the area are raised for the market, pigs, cows
and goats being the most common. These double as savings
accounts in Jamaica as elsewhere among peasants (Firth,
1963; Wolf, 1966). Donkeys and mules are valuable tools on


68
the farm and tend to be used as such rather than bought for
resale.
In terms of the factors within the Two Meetings
socioeconomic environment which influence agricultural
production decisions and behaviors, access to land and land
tenure is not nearly so determining a factor as are
household cash flows, credit, labor, and markets. There
are a few families in the area who own a great deal of land
in the watershed but who are not among the peasantry.
These families constitute a kind of old landed gentry who
have since fallen from the grace of world economics and
politics. Much of the land which they used to work has
been taken over by the peasants. The peasants recognize
that the land is owned by others, some claim to pay rent on
the land, but no rents have been collected for a number of
years on this land and the peasants are more or less free
to work it without threat of eviction. They also tend not
to make any improvements on land gained by these means,
however (cf. Blustain, 1982b). In addition to "capturing"
land, other means of gaining access to land include
inheritance (family land), buying land, leasing government
land, renting land (primarily from other peasants),
clearing land and working it for a few years rent-free in
return for clearing it, working the land of relatives who
have moved from the watershed, and in some cases simply
being given land by another peasant. Sharecropping,


69
although used in some cases among extremely poor peasants,
is uncommon, as is service tenure. At any rate, a peasant
household in the watershed with enough family labor or
enough cash to hire labor can usually find one means or
another to gain access to land. Land quality does directly
affect, along with market fluctuations, the scheduling of
planting and the choice of crops. If a peasant can get
access to land which holds water well, for example, he or
she is more likely to plant an earlier crop of Irish
potatoes than another peasant who cannot gain access to
such land.
Farms in the watershed are highly fragmented, with
peasants producing on anywhere from one to six or seven
parcels. Total farm sizes are around three to five acres,
two to three of which are cultivated and the remainder
lying fallow. The most typical tenurial arrangement in the
watershed is to own around one-quarter acre to one-half
acre which serves as the house plot and the family garden,
and to own or rent other parcels at varying distances from
the house, sometimes as far as four miles across some
pretty rugged country. This has been the pattern among
Jamaican peasants all over the island at least since the
turn of the century (cf. Beckwith, 1929; Eisner, 1961;
Clarke, 1957; Edwards, 1961). Having fragmented
landholdings sometimes results in crop loss due to theft
and an increase in demands on the household's time, but


70
also allows peasants access to a variety of land qualities
and hence a wider variety of cropping and scheduling
decisions.
To work land productively the peasants must first have
some cash. Peasant households in the Two Meetings
Watershed are chronically short of cash. Sources of credit
include the IRDP (now defunct), the People's Loan Bank and
other area banks, relatives, friends and, very
occasionally, visiting Peace Corps volunteers and
anthropologists. The banks, as is normal practice, have
interest rates which are considered too high by the
peasantry. Loans from banks are more often sought for
capital purchases, such as buying a mule or land, than to
cover the costs of planting. Long-term credit or revolving
credit systems such as those utilized by farmers in the
U.S. (Hansen, et al., 1981), if they exist in rural
Jamaica, are not available to the peasantry. Loans from
the IRDP are (or were) used with more frequency but these
are often rejected because such loans often require
peasants to adopt production strategies with which they do
not agree. This disagreement comes less from a love of
tradition than from a detailed scrutiny and knowledge of
the ecosystem and socioeconomic environment. As a result,
most peasant households in the watershed cover their
planting expenses with cash generated by previous


harvests, as well as by using cash-saving strategies such
as cooperative labor.
Peasants in the watershed, like most peasants, use
almost no heavy machinery. The IRDP used to sometimes
terrace fields for them or clear land with tractors, and a
very few peasants have hired tractor rigs on their own (I
found only one case of this), but the use of heavy
machinery is extremely rare. Nor are draught animals used
to plow land, although mules and donkeys are used to
transport produce from the fields to the roads or into
market. This leaves human energy for the farm work, and
labor is the most costly in terms of both money and time
of all the productive resources available to the peasant
farmer. Hiring labor is the preferred labor arrangement
among the watershed's peasants, but because household cash
flows are small most peasants in the watershed combine the
use of family labor and exchange labor (day-for-day) with
hired labor. Cooperative work bees, or "morning sport,"
are not common in the watershed, although are used in other
parts of the country (Edwards, 1961). Even with these
cooperative labor arrangements, however, there is some
expense involved: the peasant who needs the workers must
provide them with food during the day and often with rum
and ganja as well, whether they are exchange labor or
hired. At noon in the fields, over open fires, green
bananas, dumplings, yams and chicken backs seasoned with


72
pepper boil in huge pots. Drinks using chocolate or ginger
root or sarsaparilla root are usually provided for the
laborers as well, sweetened with Eagle Brand sweetened
condensed milk.
The specific combination of labor arrangements varies
from farm to farm according to farm size, household size
and composition, crop types, market fluctuations, cash
generated from off-farm sources and seasonal schedules.
Some larger farms have high labor requirements throughout
the year. However, the peak seasons for labor in the
watershed tend to be from January to late April, when the
rains begin, and again in September, November and early
December, scheduling activities around the heavy October
rains. During the summer months the crop labor
requirements are somewhat reduced and it is typically
during these months that the peasants seek off-farm
employment as well as devote time to house construction,
repair and so on. The tasks which require the most labor
inputs are clearing land, terracing, planting and
harvesting, but processing food for market and marketing
also take up a good portion of the time of some peasant
households, especially when cash crops are being grown on a
wide scale. Weeding and other general crop care are done
throughout the year but can usually be handled with family
labor or exchange labor alone. Livestock and tree-crops
are low-labor enterprises. There are, of course, a wide


73
variety of other farm and non-farm tasks which draw upon
the peasant's time (hauling water and firewood, cutting yam
sticks, child care, maintenance) and, although labor
requirements are seasonal, these people are rarely idle
(cf. Brush, 1977). Although there are some flexible ideas
about division of labor on the basis of sex, in actual
behavior women and men perform many of the same tasks and
women are equally as skilled at farm management as men.
The importance of these labor arrangements and labor
requirements as they are affected by participation in the
alien labor program will be discussed in more depth later.
The principal marketing options in the area include
the Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC), the
Christiana Area Potato Growers' Cooperative, a few banana
boxing plants and ginger merchants, peasants carrying their
own goods to peasant markets and, the most commonly used
option, higglers. Higglers, usually women, are
professional itinerant buyers and sellers of produce who
come from peasant backgrounds and take advantage of
regional variations in crop types, generally buying produce
from peasants whom they are familiar with and bussing this
produce to peasant markets in other parishes for sale (cf.
Mintz, 1957; Katzin, 1959, 1971). Higglering, however, is
an occupation open to nearly anyone and for many peasants
throughout Jamaica it is a valuable and time-honored means
of supplementing farm income, as well as occasionally a


means to accumulate capital for agricultural and
non-agricultural investments. It is a highly competitive
and efficient means of getting perishable produce from
producer to consumer, but it is not without its problems.
Perhaps one of the most blatant contradictions between the
rhetoric of the Seaga regime and their actual behavior is
that they have recently initiated legislation aimed at
"savaging the higgler" (Stone, 1983), or curtailing the
previous free enterprise of higglers through complex
licensing requirements and taxes (Daily Gleaner, February
7, 1983: front page). Under Manley, supposedly an engineer
of "a disastrous decade of socialism" (Hempstone, 1982),
the freedom allowed the higglers to move the country's
produce around as well as to import goods was far greater.
With the higglers in the watershed the peasants
maintain a love/hate relationship. On the one hand, the
higglers often constitute the sole marketing outlet for the
peasants' produce. Also, unlike most of the other
marketing options, the higglers are numerous enough that
competition between higglers assures the peasant the
highest possible price for the produce. When the higglers
pay for the peasants' produce outright and bear the cost of
any loss due to spoilage themselves, there are usually no
problems between peasant and higgler. However, more often
the higgler does not have the cash up front to pay for the
crop and so the peasant must give the crop to the higgler


75
and wait until after the sale to receive his or her money.
This places a peasant producer in a position dependent upon
the honesty of the higgler. These higglers are usually
personal acquaintances of the peasants, people from within
the same district or same general area. To maintain this
delayed payment relationship, the higgler must return from
the market with some remuneration for the peasant on a more
or less regular basis. Nevertheless the higgler can return
with less money than the peasant bargained for and blame
the discrepancy on spoilage. The higglers do not have to
return proof that the crop actually spoiled. The peasant
producers thus must take the word of the higgler that their
products or portions of their products did not sell.
Jamaican peasants, as envious and suspicious of their
fellow peasants as peasants elsewhere (Foster, 1969; 0.
Lewis, 1951; Migdal, 1974; Popkin, 1979), have a low
threshhold of faith in their peasant brethren. They do not
enjoy being put in a postion where their income depends on
the honesty of another. George Foster's "Image of the
Limited Good" (1969) is perhaps the best known description
of these characteristics of mistrust and envy among
peasants, although it has since been criticized as somewhat
of a misinterpretation. That is, Foster saw the envy and
mistrust among peasants as being an expression of cognitive
orientation or belief that the goods of the world are
limited. Thus one person's gain is another person's loss.


Others understand this envy and mistrust as expressions not
of some natural cognitive orientation but rather
expressions of a recognition that the goods of the world
are, in actual fact and not in "image," limited. That is,
Jamaican peasants understand that they have historically
been denied access to land and other resources which place
them in direct economic competition with one another. When
one Jamaican peasant receives a job card it is quite clear
that another Jamaican peasant loses out. In terms of their
relationships with higglers, then, Jamaican peasants often
have to place themselves in these socially uncomfortable
positions. But this is nothing new to people for whom
hardship has been, for centuries, a way of life. Richard
Barnet reminds us: "If there is one observation about the
contemporary world which unites Marxists and non-Marxists,
it is that peasants are the world's most exploited peoples"
( 1981 : 103) .
Summary
The above discussion constitutes a general description
of peasant life and peasant agriculture in the Two Meetings
Watershed. The physical, social, and economic conditions
described are common to the entire peasant population of
the watershed. They represent the environment from which
migrants to the U.S. are drawn for the BWI Temporary Alien


77
Labor Program and to which these migrants return. The
following chapter presents the results of the comparisons
between a randomly selected population of participants in
the BWI program and a randomly selected population of
peasants who have not had equivalent migration experiences.
Both populations were selected from the environment
described above.


CHAPTER IV
THE IMPACT OF SEASONAL INTERNATIONAL LABOR MIGRATION ON
PEASANT AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION
Of the five sending countries, Jamaica supplies around
80% of the foreign labor which fuels the South Florida
sugar cane harvest and 100% of the foreign labor utilized
in the Northeast apple harvest. According to the Jamaican
Ministry of Labour and Employment's most recent estimate,
between six and seven thousand Jamaican men annually work
in the apple and sugar harvest (Jamaican Department of
Statistics, 1982a: 25). Data from three sample populations
indicate that the mean annual net earnings per man are a
little over US$3000.
Table 4-1
Mean Annual Net Earnings From Farm Work, Three Sample
populations
Population
Mean net earnings
South Florida
sample of 206
US$3141
U.S. Northeast and
South Florida
sample of 21
US$3418
Jamaican sample
of 45
US$3149
7 8


79
By a conservative estimate of US$ 3000/seas on/man, the
total Jamaican farm worker population annually nets around
twenty million US dollars. Twenty-three percent of this
amount is sent back to the island under a compulsory
savings program, generating between four and five million
dollars in foreign exchange for the Government of Jamaica
annually. This is as much as between 11% and 14% of the
estimated US$35,000,000 generated annually by the Jamaican
tourist industry and as much as between 4% and 5% of the
estimated US$92,000,000 generated by the bauxite industry
(Jamaican Department of Statistics, 1982a: 190).
While the benefit of the program as a foreign exchange
earner on national level Jamaican society and economy is
obvious, it is not readily apparent how the program affects
the Jamaican peasantry on the individual, household, local,
regional or national levels. We do know, however, that the
combined net earnings of the farm workers who travel to the
U.S. equals nearly one quarter (24%) of the gross domestic
product earned by the entire Jamaican peasantry (Jamaican
Department of Statistics, 1982a: 188). We also know that
the incomes of the individual farm workers are
substantially higher that the incomes generated by most
Jamaican peasant farms. Exactly how much higher is
difficult to determine, however. Although the 1980 per
capita income in Jamaica was US$1040 (The World Bank,
1982), information on the Jamaican peasantry as opposed to


80
the entire Jamaican population suggests that the annual
earnings of Jamaican peasant households fall far below this
per capita income figure and much further below the net
incomes of farm workers. The most comprehensive study of
Jamaican farmers, conducted by D.H. Edwards in the late
1950s, reported an average annual net farm income of just
under US$25 (Edwards, 1961: 184). More recent studies by
USAID personnel estimate that "80 percent of farm families
earn per capita incomes of less than US$200 per year"
(Goldsmith and Blustain, 1980: 3). Although income
information, especially that relying on verbal responses,
is among the most difficult to verify, it is nevertheless
clear that the farm workers' incomes are at least three
times as much as most peasant farms. It is therefore
conceivable that their farms might well benefit by this
income and give their households a distinct agricultural
production advantage over peasants who have not had similar
employment experiences.
From the setting described in the previous chapter I
drew random samples to compare migrant farm workers'
households with other peasant households who had not had
similar migration experiences (the control population).
Throughout this work the term farm workers refers to
participants in the BWI Temporary Alien Labor Program,
which is the terra the Jamaicans use to describe these
migrants. The term control peasants refers to the


81
population of peasants who have not participated in the
program nor have had equivalent migration experiences. The
comparisons between the two populations were designed to
address the following questions: Were the farm workers
operating more productive farms than the control peasant
population? Did the farm workers have a higher incidence
of investment for farm expansion that the control
population? Were the farm workers producing
proportionately more cash crops than the control
population? Finally, were these differences between the
two populations caused by participation in the alien labor
program? These questions attempt to get at a larger
question: Does international labor migration between lesser
developed and developed countries cause or enhance
developement in the lesser developed country?
Results of the Comparisons
To begin answering these questions it is best to focus
on specific examples of agricultural production and
investment in the Two Meetings Watershed. The area's most
lucrative legal cash crop is Irish potato, produced on 61%
of the farms. I mentioned above that most peasant
households in the watershed control between three and five
acres of land but usually cultivate only two to three of
those acres.
Also, land is available by means of a variety


82
of arrangements and in most cases only additional cash and
labor inputs are required to expand production by bringing
more land under cultivation. Since labor for hire is
plentiful in rural Jamaica, coming up with the cash is the
constraint on expanding agricultural production. The total
cost of hired labor, seed, fertilizers, pesticides and
transportation necessary to plant, care for and reap a
single acre (14 CWT) of Irish potatoes amounts to J$1560
(US$880)(n) (see appendix A). By 1982/83 wage and piece
rates, a farm worker in the U.S. can easily earn this
amount in four to six weeks. With a yield of five to one,
remaining 14 CWT of seed for the following crop and
marketing the remaining 5600 lbs. at J$35/CWT, this acre of
Irish potatoes would gross J$1960, or a net profit of
J$400. This amounts to a 25% return per acre on the
original investment over a period of three to four months.
In the watershed it is possible to plant three crops of
Irish potato per year.
On the surface this appears to be a sound investment.
In practice, some of the labor necessary to plant, care
for, and harvest the crop will be drawn from the family at
no cost and probably some of the labor will be exchanged,
thus bringing the overhead costs down substantially and
increasing the profit margin. It is therefore quite
possible that returns per acre will be higher than 25%. In
spite of the apparently sound economics of expanding Irish


83
potato production, the households of the farm workers who
work in the U.S. do not invest in Irish potato production
on a broader scale than control peasant households. Table
I shows that, in fact, the reverse is the case.
Table 4-2
Comparisons Between Farm Worker and Control Peasant
Households For Irish Potato Production
Farm Worker
Control
Percent
planting
potatoe s
69
57
CWTs planted
per household
per year
5.2
p= 0 1
10.6
Average pounds
of potatoes sold
to potato
cooperative annually
(1967 1981)
1490
p=.228
1835
Average shares
held in potato
cooperative
9.88
p= 2 5
13.48
(T-test, one tailed)
What does this
tell
us about
the impact of the alien
labor program on Irish potato production in the Two
Meetings watershed? First, in terms of this admittedly
restricted example, the prediction that return migrants
will invest in their home economies is not confirmed.
Indeed, it appears that participation in the program has


84
had a negative impact on Irish potato production in the
watershed. Nevertheless we cannot readily jump to the
conclusion that these production differences between farm
workers' peasant households and the control peasant
households are caused directly by participation in the
alien labor program. Even though the two populations were
randomly selected and are representative of the Two
Meetings peasant household population, there may be
alternate explanations as to why the farm workers'
households produce and sell fewer CWTs of Irish potato than
peasant households which do not have access to these U.S.
funds. However, as the following tables show, comparisons
between the two populations in terms of variables which
might suggest sampling biases which could account for
agricultural production differences reveal no significant
differences.
Table 4-3
Size and Composition of Households
Variables
Farm Worker
Control
Average age
of male
household head
38
4 2
p= 0 8
Average age
of female
household head
3 I
36
p=.09 5
Average size
o f household
7 3
6.8
p= 24


85
Tab le 4 -3 continued
Average number
of male s
4.3
3.4
Average number
of females
3.0
3.4
Average number
of adults
(15 + years)
2.8
3.9
Average number
of children
(0-14 years)
4.4
3.0
Average number
of people aged:
60 +
.09
.5
50-59
.2
.3
40-49
. 5
.4
30-39
1 .0
1 .2
20-29
. 5
.8
10-19
1 7
1 1
0-9
3 2
2.3
Table 4-4
Ratio of Consumers to Workers Per Household
Farm Worker Control
Consumer:
Worker
Ratio 2.1:1 1.9:1
Note: workers are all able bodied people over the age of 11
who contribute to agricultural production.


86
Table 4-5
Relationships With Other Peasant Households Through Outside
ChiId ren
Farm Workers
Con t rol
Average number
of outside
children of
male household
head
1 .2
.8
Percent of males
with outside
children who are
responsible for
outside children
93.7
94.4
Mode number
of households
related to by
outside children
1
1
Moreover, careful reconstruction of the histories of
farm workers' households demonstrate that in most cases the
initial years of participation in the program coincide with
decreases in potato production and sales. In cases where
there was a break in travel to the U.S. of a year or two,
the farm workers' households' Irish potato production
increased during the years he spent in Jamaica, only to
decrease again once he resumed travel to the United States.
Irish potato increases subsequent to travel, however, do
not ususally represent substantial increases from the years
prior to participation, but instead a resumption of
previous production levels.


87
The most obvious explanation for decreases in Irish
potato production during the years the farm workers are
abroad is that their absence from Jamaica for a substantial
portion of the year prevents them from taking advantage of
this investment opportunity. This explanation however
ignores the fact that peasant farming, in Jamaica and
elsewhere, is a household rather than an individual
economic activity. That is, women in the Jamaican
countryside are as capable and as willing as men to
engineer the land preparation, planting, weeding and so on
associated with Irish potato production. The following
tables show that women are in most cases responsible for
the farm while the farm workers are abroad and that they
tend to use remittances to hire farm labor.
Table A-6
Principal Manager of Farm During Farm Worker's absence
(n = 4 5 )
Relationship
to farm worker
Percent of population
Wife/girlfriend
74.3
Brother
8.6
Father/father-in-law
5.7
Son
2.9
Othe r relative
2.9
Friend
2.9
Hired hand
2.9


88
Table 4-7
Percent of Population who Use Remittances to Hire Farm
Labor (n=45 )
Hire 73.5
Donothire 26.5
There are constraints upon a woman's time which arise
at particular stages in her life cycle, during which hild
care demands much of her attention. In Jamaica however two
factors undermine explanation of decreased agricultural
production: first, the salient phenomenon of overlapping
households means that cost-free child care services are in
abundant supply; second, as the above table shows, there is
a tendency for the wives and girlfriends of the farm
workers to use remitted U.S. earnings to hire laborers to
work on the farm, thus boosting these women to managerial
positions in the fields and allowing them time and free
breasts to feed and arras to care for the children while
monitoring the laborers' activities. Also, male household
members or male friends and relatives of the farm workers
often help the women in these endeavors in cases where
sexual antagonism undermines the woman's control over male
farm labor. We cannot, therefore, attribute these lower
production levels to the absence of the men.
This negative impact of the program is not typical,
however. More often, comparisons between the farm workers'


89
households and the control peasants households reveal that
the impact of the program as a whole on Jamaican
agriculture is neutral. That is, as the following tables
show, few significant differences emerge from comparing the
two populations on the basis of a wide variety of
agricultural variables.
First, in terms of land utilization, land tenure and
land fragmentation, the only differences that emerge are
the the farm workers' households utilize a greater
proportion of their land than the other households, and
that the proportions of rented land and owned land are
nearly reversed between the two populations. (Probability
levels refer, again, to one tailed Student's T-tests.)
Table 4-8
Land Utilization, Land Tenure, and Land Fragmentation
Variables
Farm Workers
Control
Average amount
of land rented
and owned (acres)
3.05
3.76
p= 1 5
Average amount
of land cultivated
(acres)
2.26
2.64
p= 1 7
Percentage of
land lying
fallow
17.5
29.5
p=.0 3 4
Average number
of parcels
cultivated
2.3
2.3


90
Table 4-8 continued
Average percent
of land owned
Average percent
of land rented
Terms of tenure (%)
rent and own
own all
rent all
captured land
relative's land
relative's land
and rent and own
other
37
58
53
35
34.1
17.3
2.4
6.2
34.1
23.5
2.4
3.7
7.3
17.3
12.2
28.4
7 .3
3.7
These differences between the two populations,
however, do not result in different amounts of land
actually cultivated. Nor do they result in radically
different production strategies. That is, the following
tables show that for the production of crops for market and
livestock holdings there exist, again, few differences
between the two populations.
Table 4-9
Crops Production for Market
Variables Farm Workers Control
Average number
of hills of yam 726
p= 1 1
Average number
of square chains
ofcoffeee 8.8
p= 243
Percent planting
red peas
521
16.9
73
58


Full Text

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