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Credit Between CulturesFarmers, Financiers, and Misunderstanding in Africa$
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Parker Shipton

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780300116038

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300116038.001.0001

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Tobacco Contract Farming

(p.137) Chapter 9 Wildfire
Credit Between Cultures

Parker Shipton

Yale University Press

This chapter compares the tobacco-growing project of British American Tobacco (BAT) with the government and international aid agencies' projects in Kenya, revealing that the tobacco-growing project offered inputs on credit without land titles as collateral security. While the government and international aid agencies' projects were an exercise in strategic complexity, the tobacco-growing project was an exercise in strategic simplicity. The BAT story suggests just how tightly a big organization with a strict, streamlined management and an expensive “extension” apparatus can control crop production for a highly lucrative cash crop—and how deeply, in doing so, it can affect the ecology and economy of a region it touches. The chapter suggests that the changes are by no means limited to material or financial ones; they profoundly influence social and indeed religious life as well.

Keywords:   tobacco-growing project, international aid agencies, credit, collateral security, cash crop

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