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3. Agricultural policies in mainland Tanzania, 1946-76

3. Agricultural policies in mainland Tanzania, 1946-76

Rural development in tropical Africa: 52-89

The paper first discusses the three main agricultural policies attempted in Tanganika in the post-war years: (1) the encouragement of white settlers; (2) the Groundnut Scheme, in which European expertise was to be applied not in the private sector but on the very large government-run state farms; (3) land development and soil conservation schemes under which the mass of the African population was compelled, by the threat of fines or imprisonment, to carry out agricultural practice supposed to be to their good. By 1956 mass compulsion was no longer possible, and a change of policy was initiated; concentration on small selected points, a procedure known as the "focal point approach". At the same time as it followed the focal point approach in its extension work, the government encouraged development of a co-operative movement to take over the marketing of peasant-grown crops from Asian and African traders. In the early 1960s when the inefficiency and corruption of the co-operatives became obvious, they became the first nationalist institutions to be attacked by the peasants. The second half of the paper discusses the post-independence agricultural policies of ujamaa and villagization. It is concluded that ever since the government started intervening directly in agricultural production, in the Groundnuts Scheme, it has made technical mistakes which have led to failures and waste of resources. The cost is not only financial. The social cost is an unco-operative peasantry. Before colonial times they devised agricultural systems (in Ukara Island, in the Rufiji, the irrigation systems on Kilimanjaro, and many others) that were agriculturally rational uses of nature's raw materials. In the 20 years of the focal point approach they demonstrated that in certain conditions they could innovate and increase production. The motivation then was the possibility of getting rich. It seems very unlikely that Tanzania's problems of agricultural production will go away while bureaucrats think that they understand what peasant farmers ought to do and see the solution to those problems in terms of forcing the peasants to work.

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