The impact of coffee production on the socio-economic status of the people of Mbinga district, 1950-1990

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study examines the impact of coffee production on the socio-economic status of the people of Mbinga district from 1950 to 1990.The study is guided by the political economy approach with an assumption that capitalist production relations had some impacts on pre-capitalist production relations socially, economically and politically. Data for this study was collected through both interviews and documentary reviews. The study reveals four main findings. First, the study has established that the pre-colonial economy in Mbinga was characterized by a subsistence economy with minor exchange activities. While Agriculture was the main economic activity, hunting, basketry, pottery making and ironworks were also important. In undertaking those activities, cooperation was common. The Wamatengo, being the dominant society in the district, had a clear division of labour based on sex and age. Land was owned by clans and controlled by clan heads. Despite the fact that production was for subsistence, there was an exchange system in Matengo society in the late pre-colonial period. Second, during the colonial period, before 1950, the society witnessed the transformation of the economy from that of subsistence to a commercial one. It was during this period that coffee was introduced in the district. The German colonial government laid the foundation for coffee production and the British colonial government consolidated production and made it the main cash crop on which the Matengo people depended. Coffee became the main force in shaping the socio-economic status of the people of Mbinga district. Third, the study has found out that, in the period from 1950 to 1960, there was expansion of coffee production in the district. This expansion led to food shortage in the district which was the result of devoting more energy to coffee production activities and less to food crop production. On the other hand, coffee production enabled the accomplishment of many projects through the taxes collected from export of coffee; houses were improved and people were enabled to have a reliable source of income. Fourth, the study has established that, from the 1960s to the 1990s, coffee production in the district underwent a number of changes; its quality declined to an extent that forced the Tanzanian government to embark on national coffee development programmes. Despite those programmes, coffee production had negatively impacted on land availability, which resulted in migration and land conflict, increase in the number of criminal cases and poverty. Land was no longer seen as a communal property, but a private one. This study concludes that, the deepening of the capitalist economy as signified by the expansion of coffee production was associated with the worsening of the socio-economic status of the peasants in the district.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF DT449.R88K65)
Coffee production, Mbinga district
Komba, Y. (2014). The impact of coffee production on the socio-economic status of the people of Mbinga district, 1950-1990