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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Disjunctures in Theory and Practice: Making Sense of Change in Agricultural Development at the Office Du Niger, 1920-60
Author:Van Beusekom, Monica M.
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Mali
Subjects:agricultural projects
development corporations
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Development and Technology
History and Exploration
Abstract:This article explores the relationship between agricultural development theory and practice at the Office du Niger irrigation scheme in French Soudan (Mali). A large-scale rice and cotton irrigation scheme initiated in the 1920s in the Middle Niger valley, the Office du Niger was conceived within an elaborate social evolutionist model that considered hoe agriculture to be inferior to intensive plough farming. By introducing intensive plough agriculture and crop rotations, Office planners expected to initiate a complete transformation of agriculture and rural society in Soudan. But they were unable to realize their vision. Farmers rejected many project directives, because they were inappropriate or incompatible with their priorities. By the mid-1940s, managers were forced to recognize that the project had not introduced an agricultural system that was sustainable in the long run. The postwar era saw the Office institute a number of changes. Alongside Western technical/scientific approaches to ensuring the sustainability of farming at the project, managers made conscious use of local knowledge and local agricultural practices. Social evolutionist theory lived on, but was expressed more at the level of rhetoric than of project policy. Notes, ref., sum.