Social Scientist. v 7, no. 73-74 (Aug-Sept 1978) p. 69.


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NICO KIELSTRA

The Place of the Agrarian Revolution in the Algerian Approach to Socialism

WHEN discussing developments in Algerian agriculture we should always bear in mind that Algeria, although mainly dependent on agriculture up to the 1950s, is a country of rather limited agricultural possibilities. Pre-colonial Algeria fed a population of two to three millions (of which 90-95 percent were rural) and maintained a fragile ecological equilibrium on the basis of a combination of extensive grain-growing, some tree culture and an important pastoral sector. Algerian agriculture, was capable of producing a modest wheat surplus if stimulated to do so. In the years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars Algeria exported wheat to France, southern Spain and Gibraltar, but after 1815 Russian wheat, exported via Odessa, drove Algerian wheat from the Mediterranean markets.1

Turkish tax assessments in the area of Constantine before 1830 were based on an average wheat production of 20 quintals per hectare which appears unrealistic if we consider that wheat ptoduction^in the modern agricultural sector in the colonial period never rose. above 12-13 quintals per hectare.' The Turkish tax gatherers certainly ovcrassesscd their subjects, but productivity may have been relatively high in this period. Turkish tax archives assess the surface under wheat cultivation in 1830 at 359,040 hectares (against 2,28^,000 hectares in 1948)8. The



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