The Peasant Cotton Revolution in West Africa: Côte d'Ivoire, 1880-1995 (2001)
By Thomas J. Bassett
Cambridge University Press
The book tells an unusual story of the growth of the cotton economy of West Africa. One of the few long-running success stories in African development, change was brought about by tens of thousands of small-scale peasant farmers. While the introduction of new strains of cotton in French West Africa was in part a result of agronomic research by French scientists, supported by an unusually efficient marketing structure, this is not a case of triumphant top-down ‘planification’. Employing the case of Côte d’Ivoire, Professor Bassett shows agricultural intensification to result from the cumulative effect of decades of incremental changes in farming techniques and social organization. A significant contribution to the literature, the book demonstrates the need to consider the local and temporal dimensions of agricultural innovations. It brings into question many key assumptions that have influenced development policies during the twentieth century.