Historical Approaches to Problem Solving in Agriculture with Reference to Colonial Trinidad and Tobago

The realization that agricultural resource exploitation offered attractive prospects for profits resulted in the movement of numbers of adventurous individuals into the region to establish plantations. Most had neither farming experience nor credentials in agriculture but all shared the desire to make their ventures profitable. Initially, agriculture in the Caribbean was largely private enterprise under the full direction of the individual plantation owners, or managers who were usually attorneys, who ran the operations without state interference or professional assistance. This was the modus operandi until the second half of the 19th century when the most notable change discernible in the practice of agriculture in the Caribbean was a growing expectation of and dependence on government assistance of various kinds which heralded a period of state involvement in the agriculture of the region. This paper examines the historical tradition of problem solving manifested in the agriculture of the region with reference to developments in the colony of Trinidad and Tobago during the colonial era. The paper identifies the earliest forms of government assistance to agriculture and the kinds of requests for assistance and the levels of response from both the imperial and colonial government. The paper then discusses the problems that were identified in the colony's agriculture and the methods used to deal with them. Central to this discussion is an examination of the reports of the various commissions of enquiry which consistently identified increased diversification, more scientific applications to agriculture, disease control and more education and training for the labour force. The paper argues that these were among the main factors which stimulated the development of extension services as a state responsibility in the colony's agriculture and determined the nature of its development and its efficacy up to the end of the colonial period.

Issue Date:
Aug 15 2004
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
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 Record created 2017-11-30, last modified 2018-01-23

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