The Historical Marginalisation of Small-holder Cotton Farmers in the Cotton Value Chain in Western Cotton Growing Area, Tanzania, c. 1920 to 1960

Somo M.L. Seimu


This article provides an historical account of small-holders’ cotton growing and marketing in an area of colonial Tanzania known as the Western Cotton Growing Area. Covering the period from 1920-1960, the article focuses on the colonial government’s efforts to promote cotton
growing and marketing, which included establishment of relevant legislation and enforcement of such laws and related regulations. The article reveals that the colonial policies and legislation on cotton production and marketing favoured Indian merchants and facilitated exploitation of African producers. As a result, during the 1940s and 1950s the African producers formed associations that brought them together in the effort to pressurise the colonial administration to allow formation of Africans’ cotton marketing societies. This effort was supported by local chiefs, and in due course it resulted in
remarkable achievements; such that by 1954 the societies were handling one-third of the total crop successfully. By 1960 they had established monopoly in the marketing of cotton in the entire area.


Cotton, cooperatives, marketing, Tanzania, small-holders.

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