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Chapter 14 Kenya’s Cattle Trade and the Economics of Empire, 1918–48 David Anderson The study of the history of livestock production inAfrica has been dominated in recent years by two closely linked themes. The first is the control of disease, especially the impact of major epizootic outbreaks upon African domestic livestock production;1 the second is the development, or to be more precise, the lack of development of commercial livestock production .2 The connection between these two themes was the principal concern in the development of Western veterinary medicine in Africa throughout the twentieth century and especially during the colonial period up until the early 1960s. The veterinary departments established throughout colonial Africa sought to contain disease in order to bring development. This “biological warfare” was championed, as Shaun Milton has reminded us, “as part of the wider struggle of the forces of the human enlightenment over those of darkness and ignorance in the face of a merciless nature.”3 Milton’s imagery reflects the “colonial mission” of the early twentieth century but also echoes the beliefs and attitudes that were most evident in the colonies of white settlement, where European immigrants struggled to es- Kenya’s Cattle Trade and the Economics of Empire, 1918–48 |  tablish themselves as dairy and beef producers alongside indigenous African herders. It was in the settler states of Kenya, Rhodesia, and South Africa that veterinary authorities were most aggressive in promoting a Western model of commercial development for the livestock sector. In that struggle, the connection between disease control and commercial development was absolutely crucial, as the advocates of settler production stigmatized and denigrated indigenous African producers in their efforts to promote their own interests. This was, indeed, commonly presented as a battle between the progressive, economic, and sustainable methods of production advocated by European settlers and the backward, uneconomic, and environmentally damaging practices of African herders.4 This chapter examines the history of the development of Kenya’s livestock industry over the period from the end of World War I to 1948, precisely focusing on the tensions that emerged around the development of a settler beef industry. Taking up themes first considered for Southern Rhodesia (by Phimister5 ) and for South Africa (by Milton6 ), both examples in which state subsidy and direct regulation allowed the development of a settler-led export markets, the Kenyan story had a less happy outcome for the advocates of settler production. Lacking the political authority of their counterparts in Southern Rhodesia, or even in South Africa, Kenya’s settlers struggled to win support for their plans.7 It was only after several years of negotiation in the mid-1930s that an agreement was brokered with the Liebig company linking the development of meat processing in Kenya with a campaign to cull African-owned “scrub stock,” thus neatly coupling the advance of settler production with the solving of the supposed “problem” of African livestock production. The“solution”turned into a comical farce, as market forces exposed the frailty of the European scheme. Kenya’s settlers did not get their export market, nor did they succeed in bringing the African domestic livestock sector under their control. The chapter begins by reviewing the European view of African herding in the interwar years, explaining views about African overstocking and its consequences and cures. The next section moves on to consider the promotion of the European export market and the involvement of Liebig in Kenya, cataloging the abysmal and embarrassing failure of the culling scheme put in place to feed the Liebig meat-processing plant. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the character of the African livestock market and its response to price incentives. The argument challenges notions of uneconomic indigenous African production, suggesting that the state’s unwillingness to give Africans a fair price for their stock was the problem, not the reluctance of Africans to bring stock to the market.  | David Anderson The Overstocking Debate In all the many debates about the development of Kenya’s livestock industry in the interwar years, the question of overstocking emerges as a dominating theme. European opinion in the colony, both settler and official , advocated the destocking of the African areas, some favoring the provision of market incentives, others promoting outright compulsion. Debates on destocking in Kenya frequently drew upon South African examples , citing at length the Drought Commission of 1921 and the reports on the Native Economic Commission of 1930–32.8 Kenya’s own Agricultural Commission, under the chairmanship of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780821443101
Related ISBN
9780821418857
MARC Record
OCLC
681350866
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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