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Common scenes in one of Kenya's vegetable producing areas. A Kikuyu family wash their carrots in a nearby stream before bagging them for sale, 1940 - 1949

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3011U/353

Scope and Contents

From the Sub-Series:

A series of Official photographs (Copyright Reserved). They each have the following typewritten caption on the reverse:

'One doesn't associate the middle of Africa with green peas, asparagus and new potatoes, but in the highlands of Kenya most English vegetables grow as well as they do at home. This was a useful factor in wartime when vegetables were urgently needed for thousands of troops in both the East Africa Command and the Middle East. Previously, potatoes had been the only vegetable exported from the Colony in any quantity, but with the possibilities of dehydration the field was considerably widened. Native growers were organised in the Kikuyu country to grow carrots, cabbages, potatoes and paprika, or red chillies. Two factories were set up, machinery designed and largely created out of what was available in the Colony. A hydro-electric power plant was installed at a 120 foot water fall, three miles from one of the factories and by the end of 1944, 138 tons of dried vegetables were produced every month. It takes about ten tons of fresh vegetables to produce a ton of dried. This enterprise had a great effect upon the ways of life and the economy of the local African. These simple peasants formerly grew foodstuffs mainly for their own consumption - maize, millet, beans, only the surplus was sold. Their own diet was inadequate and lacked vitamins. Population was dense and as yields from their own often tired lands were small, the question of living space was becoming acute. Methods of irrigation were introduced by the Agricultural officers and African instructors who supervised the growers and in some instances tribal groups allocated land for vegetable growing by their members under expert guidance. These areas were irrigated and terraced to prevent wash, and the men were paid a wage for working the plot. The final pay-out was made at the end of the season according to the crop produced. The cost of manuring these plots was deducted from this pay-out when carried out by the Agricultural Department, and the Kikuyu were quick to learn to manure their fields themselves. Thus the locals learnt something of a cash economy, improved their farming methods, got a bigger return from less land, and improved their own diet. Above all the venture helped to alleviate the overwhelming pressure of an agricultural population on the soil, for not only were the earnings of the growers increased from smaller acreages, but the factories themselves absorbed Africans as artisans. The end of the Army's demand for dried vegetables presented a new problem to Kenya's government. How were the factories to be kept going? Where was the market for their produce? Now after lengthy negotiations and in view of the fine samples produced by the factories, it is hoped that a big British canning business may take them over'.


  • Creation: 1940 - 1949

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From the Fonds:

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Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Good condition.

Former / Other Reference




Date information

DateText: Dated '1940s' in the original typescript catalogue..

Finding aid date

2003-11-14 14:20:55+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom