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polder agriculture

The Colonial Origins of Guyana’s Underdevelopment


Dutch settlements on the coastal plain locked Guyana into polder agriculture and, inadvertently, ensured a small, widely dispersed population. The former requires high cost drainage, irrigation and agricultural production. The latter also implies high costs, as infrastructure, for example,—cannot be distributed over a large enough population. Wages were therefore suppressed by immigration, which increased the elasticity of supply of labour, and facilitated the playing off of one ethnic group against the other.

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