The Economic History Review

The battle for rubber in Benin

Volume 67 Issue 4
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Pages: 1012-1034Authors: James Fenske
Published online: February 25, 2014DOI: 10.1111/1468-0289.12044

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Nigerian rubber exports expanded rapidly during the Second World War ‘battle for rubber’. This was achieved by overcoming obstacles to greater exploitation of both wild and planted rubber. This article outlines Nigeria’s wartime experience, focusing on the Benin region that dominated smallholder production after the war. British policies initially restricted rubber planting. After Japan occupied South-East Asia, Britain encouraged maximum production. Late in the war, officials struggled with the planting boom that had occurred. The war was a period of both continuity and change for Benin, and exposed the limited capacity of the colonial state.