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Title: The evolution of colonial agricultural policy in Sierra Leone, with special reference to swamp rice cultivation, 1908-1939
Author: Moore-Sieray, David
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1988
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This study hopes to contribute firstly to the new awakening among governments and international development agencies in sub-Saharan African about the crucial significance of a historical perspective in development planning in the region. It does this by tracing the evolution of colonial agricultural policy in Sierra Leone, during a period when particular attention was being paid to the staple food crop, rice. It deals with the establishment of the Department of Agriculture and its early attempts to encourage both cash-crop and food-crop production. In this way the study hopes to contribute to the continuing debate about the future of the rice industry in Sierra Leone by examining the main ideas, practical efforts, problems and achievements of the Colonial Agricultural Department while at the same time focussing attention on indigenous initiatives in which the Department itself was keenly interested. The study shows that the unprecedented food shortages of 1919 and the accompanying riots, read by colonial officials as the result of the persistence of the 'primitive' shifting cultivation system in the countryside and Krio insubordination in town, compelled the Administration to place higher emphasis on food production. It shows how by the 1920s Agriculture Department Officers had come to consider improved swamp rice cultivation as the best solution to the food problem. In 1934, Rokupr Rice Research Station was established and systematic efforts to improve swamp rice cultivation began. As well as tracing the evolution of Agricultural Department policy, the study shows how African farmers worked to improve their system of rice cultivation in the Scarcies region, in ways which were of great interest to colonial officials. Finally, the study shows how the implementation of Agricultural Department policy was constrained by shortage of funds, especially during the inter-war depression. After 1929 many officials were laid off and revenue allocations to the Agricultural Department were kept to a minimum. The development of rice research and extension work during the 1930s is placed firmly in this context and that of the growing need to apply scientific research to African agricultural problems. The study ends with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, after which new agricultural policies emerged and the old debates were largely forgotten: a situation which this study attempts to remedy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral