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An experiment with African coffee growing in Kenya: the Gusii, 1933-1950

by Barnes, Carolyn
[ Thesis ] Published by : Univ. Microfilms Int. (Michigan) , 1976 Physical details: 266 p. : ill. Subject(s): Coffee industry -- Kenya Thesis Item type: Thesis List(s) this item appears in: Thesis
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Research and Special Collections HD 9199.B3 Not for loan

Thesis (Ph.D.), 1976 Michigan State University, 1976.

Includes bibl. refs.

This study analyzes the factors within and without Gusii society which directly influenced the introduction and expansion of coffee production. It also describes the assumptions of the colonial admnistrators in regard tot he form and structure of the industry. Furthermore, salient characteristics fo the pioneer growers, those who adopted coffee before 1938, are compared with a subsequent group of Gusii coffee farmers to test hypotheses on innovation. A combination of research methods and techniques were employed. Primary, written documents and relevant secondary materials were consulted in the United States, England and Kenya. Also, pioneer growers and other informants were questioned following an interview guide. Then a structured questionnaire was administered to the pioneers, a random sample of the next set of coffee adopters, and respondents for the deceased members of the study unit. Information from the questionnaires is provided in tables, giving frequency counts and percentages, while chi-square tests indicate levels of significance. The study documents, up to 1933, the importance of coffee within the settler-dominated economy of Kenya, which prohibited production of the crop by indigenous persons. After that date, at the insistence of the Colonial Office, the colony agreed to African coffee growing, but only on a limited, experimental basis. The ultimate agreement compromised a more extreme position taken earlier by the Colonial Office, when Sidney Webb was Secretary of State. Among the three experimental areas was Gusiiland, in southweastern Kenya. The initiative to begin coffee growing there, and subsequently the impetus to organize the industry on a cooperative basis, was taken by district officials. A positive response tot he introductiono f coffee was forthcoming from only a small number of Gusii cultivators. A significant percentage of the first growers were among the early educated members of their society. They were motivated by a combination of reasons, including the expectation of earning a greater cash income. In contrast, other members of their society were unwilling to plant coffee for fear that Europeans would confiscate their land if they grew the crop successfully. After this fear subsided, the rate of expansion was largely determined by external factors such as the wartime emphasis on food crop production, the policy of concentration of coffee areas, coffee diseases and pests, and availability of seedlings. The ultimate control resided with the central government, which set a maximum limit on the annual allocation of seedlings per individual and the maximum number of acres under coffee in each experimental area. Although coffee production in Gusiiland was successful, not until mid-1949 was the maximum acreage limitation removed........

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