A history of peasant tobacco production in Ruvuma Region, Southern Tanzania, c.1930-2016

Ndomba, Herbert Harald (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is a contribution to the broader East African historiography of environmental and agrarian change and more specifically the tobacco industry in Tanzania. This thesis joins an existing academic conversation between historians (and, more inter-disciplinarily, others like agro-economists and ecologists) on the conceptualisation of African peasants, the rise of peasant protests, the tension and accommodations between state and peasants, the marketing of peasant commodities and the ecological impact of one crop-‘flue-cured tobacco’ farming in both central and western Tanzania. This thesis focuses on the establishment, control, and resultant socio-environmental and political impacts of ‘fire-cured tobacco’ peasant production in the Ungoni and Undendeuli areas of Ruvuma in southern Tanzania. It examines the rise of a peasantry tied to tobacco production in three phases. First, it examines the role of the state in the establishment and control of African commercial tobacco production between the 1930s and 1950s. Secondly, it traces the changing fortunes of local peasant cooperatives in the control of tobacco production between the mid-1950s and the early 1970s. Finally, it assesses the postcolonial socio-economic and environmental impact of tobacco production in Ruvuma between the 1970s and the mid-2010s. This study draws on archival materials, oral testimonies, and geographic information systems (GIS) to provide an historical analysis of the complex relationships among the key tobacco actors including the state, cooperatives, tobacco companies and the local tobacco-growing peasants. It demonstrates that tobacco production was started in Ruvuma during the 1930s ‘Plant More Crops’ campaign as an attempt to rehabilitate the British economy and to improve rural livelihoods after the Great Depression. Over time, the tobacco industry became an important source of permanent cash income for the Wangoni and Wandendeuli men and women of Ruvuma – as well as a means of generating state revenue and of profit accumulation by the tobacco companies. The thesis extends James Scott’s ‘weapons of the weak’ and Elinor Ostrom’s ‘governing the commons’ approaches to demonstrate that this apparently short-lived ‘success story’ of peasant tobacco production towards the mid-2010s came at a terrible cost: the impoverishment of rural peasants, a decline in the tobacco industry, and deforestation in parts of southern Tanzania.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif lewer 'n bydrae tot die breër Oos-Afrikaanse geskiedskrywing van omgewings- en landbouverandering en, meer spesifiek, die tabakbedryf in Tanzanië. Die proefskrif sluit aan by ʼn bestaande akademiese gesprek tussen historici (en, op `n interdissiplinêre vlak, ander soos landbouekonome, geograwe, en ekoloë) oor die konseptualisering van kleinboere in Afrika, die opkoms van kleinboere-protes, die spanning en aanpassings tussen die staat en die kleinboere, die bemarking van boerdery kommoditeite, en die ekologiese impak van enkel oes “oondgedroogde tabak boerdery” in beide sentrale en westelike Tanzanië. Hierdie proefskrif fokus op die vestiging, beheer en gevolglike sosio-omgewings en politieke impak van vuurgedroogde tabakproduksie deur kleinboere in die Ungoni en Undendeuli gebiede van die Ruvuma streek in die suide van Tanzanië. Dit bestudeer die opkoms van kleinboere wie gekoppel is aan die produksie van tabak, in drie fases. Eerstens, word die rol van die staat in die vestiging van en beheer oor kommersiële tabakproduksie deur Afrikane tussen die 1930’s en 1950’s ondersoek. Tweedens, word die veranderende lotgevalle van boere-koöperasies tussen die middel-1950’s en die vroeg 1970’s nagespeur. Laastens evalueer dit die postkoloniale sosioekonomiese- en omgewings impakte van tabakproduksie in Ruvuma tussen die 1970’s en middel- 2010’s. Hierdie studie maak gebruik van argiefmateriaal, mondelinge bronne en geografiese inligtingstelsels (GIS) om 'n historiese analise van die komplekse verhoudings tussen die belangrikste spelers in die tabakbedryf, insluitend die staat, koöperasies, tabakmaatskappye, en die plaaslike tabakboere, te verskaf. Dit demonstreer dat kommersiële tabakproduksie in Ruvuma tydens die veldtog vir die aanplant van meer gewasse (bekend as die “Plant More Crops’ veldtog) van die 1930’s begin het as 'n poging om die Britse ekonomie te herstel en om die landelike lewensbestaan te verbeter, na die Groot Depressie. Met verloop van tyd, het die tabakbedryf 'n belangrike bron van permanente kontantinkomste vir die Wangoni en Wandendeuli mans en vroue van Ravuma geword – asook 'n manier om staatsinkomste te genereer en om winste vir die multinasionale tabakmaatskappye te lewer. Die tesis brei uit op James Scott se ‘wapens van die swakkes’ en Elinor Ostrom se ‘bestuur van die burgery’ benaderings, om aan te toon dat dié oënskynlik kortstondige suksesverhaal van kleinboer tabakproduksie teen die middel-2010’s teen 'n prys gekom het: die verarming van landelike kleinboere, 'n afname in die tabakbedryf, en ontbossing in dele van die suide van Tanzanië.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103264
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