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A Critique of the Establishment of the Marketing Boards in Nigeria in the 1940s
The British colonial government established the Marketing Boards in Nigeria at the end of the Second World War in 1940s. The Cocoa Marketing Board was set up in 1947, while the Groundnut, Cotton and Palm Produce Marketing Boards were established in 1949. The boards were established primarily to stabilize Nigerian producers` prices in order to eliminate the seasonal price fluctuations of the export produce. Other reasons were to provide funds for regional governments and economic development of the production areas and scientific research in agriculture; improvement of the quality of the crops through the grading system; and putting to an end a series of producer protests. This paper attempts a critique of the British colonial government`s aims of setting up the Marketing Boards to ascertain whether the price stabilization and fiscal policies of the boards were judiciously implemented or not. It argues that the Marketing Boards only succeeded to some extent in stabilizing seasonal producers` prices, but achieved little in stabilizing producers’ income. The profits accrued to Nigerian peasant producers were used by the colonial administration to cushion the internal contradictions in the economy that was devastated during the Second World War. This paper also contends that the British colonial government enunciated the policies to subtly protect her imperial and economic interests at the expense of the Nigerian peasants as the accumulated funds were used for other purposes by the British and their Nigerian compradors rather than the purposes they were meant for. Our analysis, therefore, adopts the materialist interpretation of colonialism which perceives colonialism as largely exploitative and oppressive and maintains that the paltry infrastructural development and social amenities provided by the British were largely accidental fallouts of colonialism. This paper submits that the Marketing Boards were British monopoly statutory institutions created to safeguard her imperial interests and ensure the domination of Nigerian economy. The paper uses qualitative method and the data which comprises both primary and secondary sources.