The role of the marketing board in Nigeria, 1947-1986: development or exploitation?
After the Second World War, the colonial government initiated many economic policies in order to resuscitate the economy of Britain and to develop the British African territories of which Nigeria was one. Among such economic policies was the establishment of the Marketing Board System. Cocoa marketing board was set up in 1947, while the groundnut, cotton and palm produce marketing boards were set-up in 1949. The boards were established primarily to stabilize Nigerian producers’ prices in order to eliminate the seasonal price fluctuations of export produce. Other reasons were to provide funds for regional governments and economic development of the production areas and scientific research in agriculture putting to an end a series of producers’ protests and improvement of the quality of the crops through the grading system. This paper attempts a critique of the colonial government’s aims of setting-up the marketing boards to ascertain whether the price stabilization, under-utilization, grading policy and other fiscal policies of the boards were judiciously implemented or not. The paper argues that the marketing boards only succeeded to some extent in stabilizing seasonal producers’ prices but achieved little success in stabilizing producers’ income because the profits that were supposed to accrue to Nigerian peasant producers were used by the colonial administration to cushion their industries abroad that were devastated during the Second World War. This paper also contends that, the colonial government policy was initiated in order to protect her imperial and economic interests at the expense of the Nigerian peasants because the funds accumulated for years were used for other purposes by the British and the Nigerian regional politicians rather than the purposes it was earlier put forward. Our analysis sees marketing board system as a salient exploitative measure and oppression and maintains that the paltry infrastructural development and social amenities provided were largely accidental fallout of colonialism. This paper submits that the marketing boards during the British colonial era were British monopoly statutory institutions created to ensure the domination of Nigerian economy for years. While the colonial government had been guilty of under spending, the 1954 regional marketing boards were accused of overspending, while the 1980s commodity boards were squeezed on an attempt to please the farmers.