As contract farming gains ground as a form of agricultural production in Southern Africa, there is growing interest in its effects on patterns of investment and production as well as in its potential to provide small farmers with access to export markets. However, the relation between contract farming and the region's long history of labour migration has largely escaped analysts and scholars working on Southern Africa. This article traces the changing livelihoods of those who experienced the demise of the migrant labour system and displacement during the civil war, and who now engage in contract farming in Angónia, a densely populated district in Tete Province, central Mozambique. In the decades since the end of the war, contract farming thrived among former migrants with access to land and few alternative sources of income and employment. If historical labour migration from Angónia involved attempts by employers to externalize the responsibility for social reproduction onto households, contract farming amounts to the internalization by households of the opportunities, risks and tensions involved in the production of high-value export commodities. By analysing farmers' accounts of producing under contract and linking this to their households' longer histories of labour mobilization, this article sheds light on people's experiences of working for wages, working on their own account and hiring workers, as households became the new sites of commodity production.