The Enterprising Peasant: Economic Development in Gombe Emirate, North Eastern State, Nigeria, 1900-1968

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London, UK: HMSO


The book examines the level of economic growth in Gombe Emirate, north eastern Nigeria over the two generations from the beginning of the century; the time from the first decade to the 1960s saw a fourfold population increase from 150,000 to 600,000 due to natural increase and immigration. From 1949 onwards there has been enormous commercial growth, largely on account of the enterprise of peasant farmers, and without abnormal aid inputs. The nature of the soils and water resources and population density affect settlement and land use. There are four main soil types in the area; red loamy soils, used mainly for wet season grazing as their water retention is low, moderately fertile loamy soils, clayey and heavy loam soils used mainly for cotton growing, and rocky hill soils which have thin soils and are mainly forest reserves. The Fulani have been the dominant group in the area politically and numerically; this population consists of cattle Fulani, semi-settled Fulani and settled Fulani. During the 1930s many semi-nomadic Fulani settled in southern Gombe and, on account of the good grazing and farm land, decided to stay, some giving up their herds altogether to concentrate on cotton and corn production. Settlers frequently travel for miles with their families, bringing supplies of seed and tools for farming; loans of money and small scale food for work schemes are in operation to tide the settlers over until the first harvest. Although most farmers believe that they have attained a higher standard of living since settling, shortage of cash resources is the most frequently cited problem faced by new settlers. The settlement has been voluntary and as such has produced greater returns than government aided schemes. The general direction of development has shown wider access to markets resulting in increased agricultural production, and increased wealth stimulating industrial development. The enterprising characteristics of the farmers have been the most important agent of development in the region, particularly the willingness to migrate and experiment with new production methods. The major reason for the spurt of activity is the higher prices offered for livestock, a commodity which they have the resources to produce. Agricultural production has been stimulated by the fact that the size of the home market allows increased access to international markets; isolation from markets is the greatest hindrance to development, and remote villages suffer from poorly developed road networks. This also limits the extent to which villages can specialize in response to soil quality, as they need to be self-sufficient for parts of the year. Labor has been a constraint to development and, apart from the plough, there have been few labor-saving implements made available; capital constraints arise out of the fact that farmers have to sell all their produce in the dry season when the roads are open, but suffer from considerable cash-flow difficulties during the wet season. Events in Nigeria have shown that migration to more favorable employment can take place within the rural sector and does not imply the gradual rural urban flow. The strategy for future development is dependent upon Nigerians deciding their own social and political objectives. - Blench and Marriage Annotated Bibliography


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Economic growth, Cattle, Grazing, Land use management, Markets, Livestock, Agriculture, Fulani, Population growth, Nigeria, Settlement, Seasonal variation, Self-sufficiency, Herd, Cotton, Corn, Farmers, Roads, Farm/Enterprise Scale


UK Ministry of Overseas Development Overseas Research publication No. 21