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Historia

On-line version ISSN 2309-8392

Abstract

MWATWARA, Wesley. "Running twice as fast while remaining in the same position": Settler wheat production in Southern Rhodesia, c.1928-1965. Historia [online]. 2013, vol.58, n.1, pp. 191-214. ISSN 2309-8392.

Given that temperate conditions are essential for wheat production, Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia), located in the tropics, is certainly not an ideal wheat producing area. As such, each year reports circulate in the Zimbabwean media regarding the numerous challenges faced by wheat farmers emphasising immediate action lest the nation fails to get bread, an important component of the Zimbabwean diet. However, given the importance of wheat and wheaten products, it is amazing that very little is known about the history of wheat culture in the country and the historical role played by the colonial state towards its development. This study traces the historical development of wheat production, arguing that it grew as a result of the perpetuation of Western modes of consumption, and that this history is characterised by futile attempts to tip the balance of wheat trade in favour of the settler community. It concludes that by 1965, climatic challenges, labour shortages, population explosion and financial difficulties had connived to deny Southern Rhodesia the envisaged goal of self- sufficiency in wheat and wheaten products.

Keywords : Wheat production; Southern Rhodesia; settler farmers; agriculture; wheaten products; labour shortages.

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