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Population mobility and the survival of small farming in the Rio Grande Valley, Jamaica

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The relationship between population mobility and farming is complex and has been the focus of numerous studies. Despite differing perspectives on the subject, there is an increasing realization that migration sustains farming in many rural communities, but with contradictory effects. Notwithstanding this conclusion, there is a paucity of village level studies that explain the precise ways in which migration in its various forms affects the survival of small farms. This paper reports on the results of a village level study of migration and small farming in the Rio Grande Valley of Jamaica. Apart from highlighting the various ways in which migration affects small farming at the local level, the study confirms the contradictory impact of migration on small farming in this remote agricultural community. It is noted, however, that the net effect is positive and the capital and labour resources, which are made available as a result of migration, play pivotal roles in the survival of small-scale farming as an economic activity in the area.

Keywords: Caribbean; Jamaica; population mobility; small farming; sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of the Built Environment, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Technology Jamaica, Kingston 6, Jamaica 2: Department of Geography and Geology, Eastern Michigan University, 205 Strong Hall, Ypsilanti, MI 48197, USA, Email: 3: Department of Geography and Geology, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica, Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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