1st Edition

The Modern Plantation in the Third World

By Edgar Graham, Ingrid Floering Copyright 1984

    Originally published in 1984, this was the first study to define and rationalise the character and functions of the plantation in the contemporary world. The author, Edgar Graham, was uniquely placed to do this having had long experience of Unilever’s plantations in West Africa, Zaire, Malaysia and the Pacific. Writing as a pragmatist, from observed fact, his starting point was the fact that the ‘modern plantation’ bears very little resemblance to that of the past, on which most hostile accounts are still based. Two changes altered the very nature of the issue: First, the 20th Century plantation existed within an economic framework controlled by independent governments. Secondly, the rapid development in technology has revolutionised most aspects of plantation production. The result, it is argued, is that the modern plantation offers host governments the option of using this as the most efficient way of utilising available factors of production to provide a maximum social return. Exemplified by case studies, this study presents a powerful argument for the continue use of the plantation system when properly applied to a variety of tropical crops.

    Part 1: The Plantation and Its Characteristics: Analysis and Economic Theory 1. The Plantation is a Production System 2. Development Economics and the Evolution of Plantations 3. Foreign Ownership and Foreign Management: Costs and Benefits 4. The Role of Management 5. The Plantation and the Host Economy: Studies in Linkages and Comparative Advantage Part 2: Applying the Plantation Principle 6. Differing Institutions and Alternative Strategies 7. Two Variants of the Modern Plantation: FELDA and Mumias Ingrid Floering 8. Cane Sugar: Factors Affecting the Market for the Production Processes of this Commodity Ingrid Floering 9. Cane Sugar: Three Case Studies Ingrid Floering 10. General Conclusions and Summary.


    Edgar Graham joined the United Africa Company in 1947 and it was his experience in West Africa in the following decade which gave him both the insight and interest in development issues. In 1974 he became Director of the Joint Boards of Unilever and was a visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford between 1964 and 1972. 

    Review of the original edition of The Modern Plantation in the Third World:

    ‘This book will make fascinating reading for those involved in the design and management of agricultural projects. But because it explains what does and does not work – and why this is so – in this critical sector, it deserves a wider readership.’ C. H. Walton, Finance and Development, Vol 22, Issue 2 (June 1, 1985).

    ‘Graham and Floering…have produced a thought-provoking contribution to the literature. The book represents a positive…focus on a difficult, relevant and very important question.’ Michael Tribe, African Affairs, Vol 86, Issue 344 (July 1987).