View the H-Africa Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-Africa's March 1996 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-Africa's March 1996 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-Africa home page.
Date sent: Mon, 25 Mar 1996 From: Gordon Thomasson, SUNY-Broome <THOMASSON_G@sunybroome.edu> When will we stop re-inventing the wheel? My article "Liberia's Seeds of Knowledge" in *Cultural Survival Quarterly: Intellectual Property Rights--The Politics of Ownership* 15(Summer 1991)3:23-28 is one of a wealth of published sources concerning Africa's indigenous agricultural resources and indigenous knowledge systems. The constraints on the development of the rich resources that are tradtional African agronomic systems (on village where I, and earlier John Gay worked in Liberia maintained 112+ varieties of rice for almost every imaginable soil/climate/terrain/etc.) are EXTERNAL. As long as international financial institutions approach "development" as a problem to be "solved" by the banks loaning money that is to be repaid with interest through cash- cropping/export on the "free market" (which forces tropical producers to accept low prices in competition with each other), indigenous African crops will be not just neglected but forcibly displaced (troops forcing cash crops to finance urban priorities at the expense of rural needs) by foreign species. Cash cropping for export takes the best land and labor (often by some form of corvee), and leaves subsistence on the margin, rather than making food self-sufficiency central and cash-cropping for export marginal. How much land has to go into rubber, cacao, coffee, etc. exports while people surrounding the plantations starve before we admit what the problem really is. And don't come back at me with the lie about economic specialization based on soil types, etc. Cacao rotting by the roadside because of world oversupplies/low prices means that local food production would have been infinitely more profitable. And don't prattle on about "free market" producer choices--they don't exist where elites appropriate the best lands and where taxes COERCE production to subsidize international markets and payback World Bank loans at the expense of local nutrition. Agronomy is not the problem. Justice is!