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“Not a Hectare of Land Shall Remain Uncultivated this Year!”
Food Provisions for Italy and the Role of the Colonies, 1917-1918
Published online on 2020/10/19
In 1917 Italy launched a plan for the “valorisation” of the colonies in support of the war effort.
Under the motto of “Ask the Motherland for as little as possible and give her as much as
possible”, Italian colonies were asked to quickly achieve self-sufficiency in basic commodities
and then come to the aid of the “Motherland”. An ambitious plan that soon encountered failure.
Nevertheless, to achieve these aims there was no hesitation to impose cultivations, exploiting
all the available land and forcing the farmers to work the land normally left fallow, dedicating
the labour to the war effort. This essay explores the effects of this policy in each Italian colony,
focusing on the reasons behind the poor results and the reactions of the farmers to these
Keywords: First World War, Africa, Italian colonies, colonial economy, food production