n Economic History of Developing Regions - Seasonal hunger in the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, 1900-40

Volume 32 Number 3
  • ISSN : 2078-0389
  • E-ISSN: 2078-0397
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There are ongoing controversies about the effects of colonial-era policies on hunger – and the nature of hunger in precolonial societies – in the Global South which have proved difficult to adjudicate because of the fragmentary nature of empirical information. The twin facts of the relatively recent incorporation of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast into the British Empire (1896) along with an interesting assortment of data on hunger from the early colonial period allow for certain inferences to be drawn about these debates. The Northern Territories is an interesting case in that it is characterized by poor soil quality, variable and seasonal rainfall, minimal experience with cash crops, limited forced labour recruitment and the late introduction of direct taxation. Overall, the data do paint a picture of severe seasonal hunger in the early colonial period, circa 1900– 40, but do not suggest that colonial policies or practices had a pronounced impact either way, pointing to the likelihood that seasonal hunger is a longstanding phenomenon which predates colonial rule.

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