West African Trade: A Study of Competition, Oligopoly and Monopoly in a Changing Economy

By P. T. Bauer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 22
THE PRICE POLICIES OF THE MARKETING BOARDS (I)1

This chapter and Chapter 23 review the price policies of the marketing boards from their establishment in 1947 and 1949 to the end of 1951, as well as, more briefly, some results of the operations of the West African Produce Control Board. In assessing the policies of the present boards, it should be remembered that the years covered were to some extent the experimental, or formative, period of these organizations.2 This does not affect the description of the policies, nor the analysis of their effects, nor the discussion of the arguments advanced in their support; indeed, it only serves to bring out more clearly some of the problems created by an experimental, ad hoc approach. But in a critical assessment of the decisions taken it is relevant that over this period the boards could be said to be feeling their way; and further that they have had to do so without a clearly defined mandate.


1. SUMMARY OF THE OPERATIONS OF THE BOARDS

The marketing boards began their operations with important advantages. The two Cocoa Boards inherited some £22 M. from the West African Produce Control Board. That organization did not begin to accumulate surpluses on other products until February 1947 (since up to that time it sold to the Ministry of Food on a cost basis), and in the space of about two years it accumulated £11m. on oil-palm produce and £10m. on groundnuts, which it handed over to the successor boards in April 1949. These last two figures were higher than the total paid to producers by the successor boards in their first year of operation. Moreover, the demand for cocoa was high, and oilseeds were still in acutely short supply; the Ministry of Food had guaranteed minimum prices for

____________________
1
The detailed discussion of the price policies of the marketing boards is confined to the Nigerian boards and to the Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board, that is, all the boards operating in these two colonies with the exception of the Gold Coast Agricultural Products Marketing Board. Some of the detailed statistics are not shown for the Nigeria Cotton Marketing Board which is much less important than the other boards.
2
There was here an asymmetry between the position of the boards and that of their constituents. The present boards came into being in 1947 and 1949; but the producers have been affected by statutory marketing continuously since the establishment of cocoa control in 1939 and the West African Produce Control Board in 1942.

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