Creating order and stability? The Dairy Marketing Board, milk (over)production and the politics of marketing in colonial Zimbabwe, 1952-1970s by Godfrey Hove
The operation of marketing boards in colonial Africa has received significant scholarly attention. The commodity marketing boards that were established in West Africa have invited a great deal of historical inquiry, with scholars such as J.O. Ahazuem and T. Falola criticising them for their exploitative role as “tax-gatherers” for colonial governments. P.T. Bauer argues along more or less the same lines, contending that although the boards were ostensibly established to stabilise prices, this, in reality, was not the case because the boards turned out to be “instruments of robbery”, with farmers in both the Gold Coast and Nigeria consistently being paid prices well below the world market price. Prices actually became more unstable under the marketing board system than they had been prior to their formation. Instead of using the funds accumulated from the farmers to develop agriculture, scholars like A.G. Hopkins state that the funds were used for other projects largely unrelated to their origin. In this case, boards such as the West African Cocoa Control Board and the West African Control Board established in the Gold Coast in the 1940s served to exploit African producers to the advantage of the colonial state, and ultimately metropolitan Britain.