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The Volta River Salt Trade: The Survival of an Indigenous Industry

I. B. Sutton
The Journal of African History
Vol. 22, No. 1 (1981), pp. 43-61
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/182151
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Volta River Salt Trade: The Survival of an Indigenous Industry
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Abstract

Salt has been produced in Ghana since at least the sixteenth century at many coastal sites. By the nineteenth century commercial production was concentrated in the lagoons east of Accra, and especially at Songor Lagoon just west of Ada. Here the Ada Manche and the priesthood controlled production. Much salt consumed in Asante and further north came from Accra, Ningo and Songor, and an increasing proportion went up the Volta River by canoe. The share of salt trade in the hands of the Ada traders is reflected in their virtual monopoly of the river traffic and their settlement in trading communities along the river. The British attempted to regulate and tax the trade, but market forces were more important in determining price. Salt from Ada was generally preferred to imported salt and to salt from other local sources, but the alternative of imported salt helped regulate the local prices. The importance of Daboya as a source of salt seems to have been somewhat exaggerated. Salt from Ada continued to predominate in much of Ghana in the twentieth century, but the river traffic was gradually replaced by motor transport, and the hold of the Adas on the distributive network broken. Salt continued to be produced by traditional methods at Songor until quite recently. It is still produced by traditional means for a fairly wide sale at Keta Lagoon, east of the Volta.

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