Trees, Tenure and Conflict
Rubber in Colonial Benin
Tree crops have changed land tenure in Africa. Farmers have acquired permanent, alienable rights, but have also faced disputes with competing claimants and the state. Para rubber had many similar effects in the Benin region of colonial Nigeria. Farmers initially obtained land by traditional methods. Mature farms could be sold, let out, and used to raise credit. Disputes over rubber involved smallholders, communities of rival users, and migrants. The impact of tree crop commercialization in Benin differed from other cases due to local context, including pre-colonial institutions, the late spread of rubber, and the relative unimportance of migrant planters.