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A Lasting Story: Conservation and Agricultural Extension Services in Colonial Malawi
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2009 (English)In: Journal of African History, ISSN 0021-8537, E-ISSN 1469-5138, Vol. 50, no 2, 1-21 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Historians have written extensively about agricultural extension services and the linkages between colonial administrations and rural communities in British Africa. Most studies argue that it is possible to identify a qualitative shift between inter- and post-war strategies. The former is characterised by modest attempts of promoting soil conservation, while the latter is described as a period when colonial governments in British Africa - guided by scientific knowledge - tried to transform peasant agriculture to increase production. The article questions this division by using colonial Malawi as a case. It reveals that the strategies and intensity of agricultural extension services changed over time but that the aim of intervention, i.e. to combat soil erosion remained the focal point throughout the colonial period. This shows that it is important to differ between strategies and scale of intervention on the one hand and their aims and contents on the other. Changes of the former took place within the conservation paradigm. Additionally, the article reveals that agricultural extension services were directed by colonial officials' perception about African farmers rather than detailed empirical knowledge about existing farming methods.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2009. Vol. 50, no 2, 1-21 p.
Keyword [en]
Malawi, agriculture, development, environment
National Category
Agricultural Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-29095DOI: 10.1017/S0021853709990028ISI: 000270323300005OAI: diva2:229119
From form to substance: The history of agricultural extension services in Malawi
Available from: 2009-08-11 Created: 2009-08-11 Last updated: 2013-02-19Bibliographically approved

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