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Trees, tenure and conflict: Rubber in colonial Benin

Fenske, James (2010): Trees, tenure and conflict: Rubber in colonial Benin.

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Abstract

Tree crops have changed land tenure in Africa. Planters have acquired more permanent, alienable rights, but have also faced disputes with competing claimants and the state. I show that the introduction of Para rubber had similar effects in the Benin region of colonial Nigeria. Planters initially obtained land by traditional methods. Mature plantations were assets that could be sold, let out, and used to raise credit. Disputes over rubber involved smallholders, communities of rival users, would-be migrant planters, commercial plantations, and the colonial state, which feared rubber would make land unavailable for food crops.

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