Making a Profit: Making a Living: Commercial Food Farming and Urban Hinterlands in North-West Nigeria

This article explores the nature and development of commercial food farming during the 1990s in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria, and its reliance on a floating labour force. The evidence collected from the Sokoto hinterland suggests a new buoyancy in commercial agriculture and an inflow of investment, as under the present economic and political conditions the elites and managerial classes have moved into farming as private and State contracting has proved less rewarding. Large-scale grain and ‘fadama’ (floodland) farming and food trading have a long history, but now they are embedded in new analytical categories which indicate a strengthening of capitalist relations of production. There are big profits in food farming provided the farmer has sufficient capital to invest and can meet recurrent labour costs. In the 1990s medium-sized farms, especially on irrigated lowland, represent a significant shift towards capitalist agriculture, at least in the short term. The introduction of motorized pumps via the World Bank’s Agricultural Development Projects marks a substantial innovation in irrigated farming. The farmers who have benefitted most from partial mechanization and the surge in food prices are the better-off small commodity producers in the villages, often linked by descent or clientage with traditional rulers and/or politicians, together with the new urban managerial classes. Bibliogr., notes, sum. in English and French.

Title: Making a Profit: Making a Living: Commercial Food Farming and Urban Hinterlands in North-West Nigeria
Authors: Swindell, Kenneth
Iliya, M.A.
Mamman, A.B.
Year: 1999
Periodical: Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Volume: 69
Issue: 3
Pages: 386-403
Language: English
Geographic term: Nigeria
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1161214
Abstract: This article explores the nature and development of commercial food farming during the 1990s in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria, and its reliance on a floating labour force. The evidence collected from the Sokoto hinterland suggests a new buoyancy in commercial agriculture and an inflow of investment, as under the present economic and political conditions the elites and managerial classes have moved into farming as private and State contracting has proved less rewarding. Large-scale grain and ‘fadama’ (floodland) farming and food trading have a long history, but now they are embedded in new analytical categories which indicate a strengthening of capitalist relations of production. There are big profits in food farming provided the farmer has sufficient capital to invest and can meet recurrent labour costs. In the 1990s medium-sized farms, especially on irrigated lowland, represent a significant shift towards capitalist agriculture, at least in the short term. The introduction of motorized pumps via the World Bank’s Agricultural Development Projects marks a substantial innovation in irrigated farming. The farmers who have benefitted most from partial mechanization and the surge in food prices are the better-off small commodity producers in the villages, often linked by descent or clientage with traditional rulers and/or politicians, together with the new urban managerial classes. Bibliogr., notes, sum. in English and French.