History of cotton-growing in East and Central Africa : British demand, African supply
Dawe, Jennifer Ann
Based on extensive UK and African archival research and a wide survey of secondary sources, this thesis examines various aspects of African cotton production from prehistoric to modern times. Its main emphasis is on the interaction of British demand and African supply during the twentieth century colonial period. The British Cotton Growing Association (BCGA), Empire Cotton Growing Corporation (ECGC), Malawi and Tanzania are studied in detail to observe the means by which the BCGA and ECGC articulated British needs and nurtured the African cotton industry and the extent to which East and Central African cotton-growing was directed by external wants, supported by outside input and met local desires. Also examined are the dynamics of competition, control and occasional cooperation between European planters, African smallholders, metropolitan government, various levels of local government administration, large-scale merchants, small traders, Departments of Agriculture and the Colonial Office (CO). Background data is provided in technical appendices and over fifty statistical tables, graphs and maps. Starting with a discussion on the origins of cultivated cottons, the first chapter describes the rise of the Lancashire cotton industry and its search for a regular, secure supply of raw cotton. The second chapter narrates the history of the BCGA, inaugurated in 1902 to meet British cotton requirements, and assesses its success, its inherent dichotomy as "semi-philanthropic, semicommercial" and its relationships with the CO, overseas governments and trading firms. It also introduces the ECGC, chartered in 1921, the main subject of the third chapter which spotlights the varied areas of ECGC activity and its role in agricultural research. Chapter 4 bridges the metropolitan-colonial divide with an examination of economics, agriculture and cotton in British territories in Africa, with specific sections on Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda. Chapters 5 and 6 present overviews of cotton-growing in Malawi and Tanzania, touching on regional variations, constraints on expansion, means of encouragement, ecological effect and economic and production results. The final, summarising chapter assesses common technical, ecological and political themes in East and Central African cotton-growing and briefly appraises the vital roles and rationale of past and present African producers, BCGA and ECGC in ensuring cotton demand was met.