Sustainable agriculture or sustained error? The case of cotton in Kirinyaga, Kenya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Ignoring historical information is one of the major sources of error in development planning. Much can be learned about what works and what does not by examining unsuccessful interventions. This paper uses archival and ethnographic data to examine the very troubled history of cotton in Kirinyaga District, Kenya. It compares the crop's introduction and failure during the 1930s under British colonial rule with its later disappointing promotion by the independent Kenyan government in the 1960s and 1970s. The paper seeks to analyze how and why errors can arise, become embedded, and proliferate in agricultural development efforts. The paper also explores why planners sometimes have difficulties appreciating lessons from the past, especially those from colonial times. The paper calls for planners to redouble their efforts to learn from historical information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1719-1731
Number of pages13
JournalWorld Development
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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