Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research

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The Commodification and Underdevelopment of Ishan Cotton in Post-Imperialism

OO Ebhohimhen, B Agara


This paper describes an aspect of the agricultural policy in Nigeria under imperialism. The commodification and underdevelopment of Ishan cotton, an indigenous agricultural product of the Esan people, Edo State in Nigeria is employed as proxy. The paper explains the processes of the transformation of Ishan cotton production from its primary use as feedstock in the precolonial cloth industry towards export orientation or commodification for metropolitan textile production. It argues that the commodification interrelates with the lack of qualitative transformation of the immediate economic environment and cost the historical producers of the cotton a strong comparative advantage. It consequently found that the characteristics of underdevelopment were in character with the distortion of pre-capitalist modes of production. Nevertheless, the post-imperial economic policies in Nigeria perpetuate the colonial patterns of production. The paper concluded that the root cause of Nigeria’s post-imperial dependence on imported textile and cotton products is the result of the non-development of cash crops in backwards integration. It recommended the qualitative transformation of indigenous skills and resources to animate the spirit of local enterprise.

Keywords: commodification; dependency; Esan; imperialism; Ishan cotton; underdevelopment.

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