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Nothing new out of Africa

Tanganyika groundnut scheme - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Tanganyika Groundnut Scheme was a plan to cultivate tracts of what is now Tanzania with peanuts. The project was a brainchild of the British Labour government of Clement Attlee. It was abandoned at considerable cost to the taxpayers after it was discovered that peanuts will not grow in Tanganyika.

Read the whole article, it isn't long, for how disaster followed disaster...

As The Tanganyikan Groundnuts Scheme says:

..based upon the official forecasts 4,000 tons of peanuts were purchased for seed in 1947 but only a fraction of this amount was actually planted. By the end of the second season's harvest, after two years of effort and 25 million had been expended, only 2,000 tons of peanuts had been harvested, 50 percent of what had been originally purchased as seed.

And the real problem was...

Alan Wood, himself a socialist, considered whether the project being a public enterprise rather than a private, profit-making endeavor had been the cause of the failure. He concluded that the principal decision-makers could not have worked any harder had their own capital been at stake. He knew from personal observation that they worked all of the time, from early morning until late at night. According to Wood,

"They worked too hard. They were themselves into such a state of weariness, fever and fret that they could not think ahead.....Too much has been written about the benefits of capitalism in providing the driving force of the profit motive. What is more difficult to replace is the function of the price mechanism in dividing up decisions among a large number of different people. The trouble was not that General Harrison was a stupid man or an incompetent man; He was plainly a man of great ability. The trouble was he carried a heavier burden than any man could bear." (Emphasis added.)
What Wood fails to realize or admit is that it is not so much a matter of how long people work but how effectively. The profit motive not only induces people to put forth more effort but to utilize the resources under their command, including their own time, more efficiently. Personal financial responsibility forces managers to delegate authority when circumstances require.

I wonder how many of the socialist NGO's busy creating schemes today in Africa have ever studied this disaster?


A Soviet style project, with Soviet style results. Apart from the bit at the begining there is nothing in the report to suggest an actual problem with the soil.

Problems with logistics abound, caused it seems by a failure to follow simple guidelines such as check your infrastructure.

I loved the bit where the Colonial office sent out people to form a trade union and the workers then went on strike.

I was not so keen on the end, 49 million is a fair chunk today and in 1951 it would have been worth even more. It's the problem with government spending, all reports and boxes to tick on forms, but to hell with the results, if those responsible knew they would be held to account and made to pay back money squandered on stupidities such as projects like this we could probably halve our tax bill.

One difference between then and now. HMG's Colonial minister resigned as a result of the fiasco. What chances today with this collection of political limpets?

A freind of mine was telling me this story only yesterday. He was actually on the ships delivering the heavy Eqiptment to Dar-es-selam! to cut a long story short, they unloaded the tractors etc & returned to UK, to reload, when they returned to Africa, the stuff was still on the dock, rusting & looted! this at a time when UK farmers were crying out for new heavy agricultural machinery. When will a SOCIALIST gov ever learn???????????

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