Cocoa Farming in Cameroon, c. 1914 – c. 1960: Land and Labour

  • Andreas Eckert


In colonial Cameroon between 1914 and 1960 cocoa was a crop mainly produced on African smallholdings. While it had no great economic importance in the British Mandate zone, cocoa played a crucial role in the economy of the French territory, especially after World War II. Over 500 000 Cameroonians in the French sphere, that is approximately 12 per cent of the entire population, were more or less dependent on cocoa during the last decade of colonial rule. Nearly 50 per cent of all export earnings came from the sale of cocoa, making the entire economy precariously dependent on the world market price of this crop. The Cameroonian share of the cocoa world production was around 6 per cent at the end of the colonial period (Joseph, 1977, 118ff; Jakobeit, 1991, 267). Cocoa production in the cocoa belt of south central Cameroon, by far the most important cocoa region, in the 1940s and 1950s was based almost exclusively on small-scale family plots (Joseph, 1977, 119; Inspection Générale de l’Agriculture, 1954). Until 1940, however, some Cameroonians grew cocoa on a scale and in a nexus of social relations which were far removed from the traditional picture of the smallholder cultivating communal land with family labour.


Cash Crop Colonial Period Cocoa Production Cocoa Farming Cocoa Plantation 
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© William Gervase Clarence-Smith 1996

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  • Andreas Eckert

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