Colonial fiber production: cotton cultivation
Cotton has been cultivated in India for 5000 years. Through Arab traders, the cotton plant reached North Africa, Sicily, and southern Spain. Until the 18th century, the fiber was scarce and expensive in Europe.1 As world production increased, the main areas of cultivation shifted to North America, boosted by seemingly unlimited land reserves and the use of enslaved people from Africa. They were abducted for the very time-consuming and labor-intensive harvest.1
The increasing demand for cotton in Europe stemmed from the mechanized textile industry during the Industrial Revolution and from population growth.2 With the acquisition of colonies, the Germans also entered colonial cotton cultivation. The colonized Africans were obliged to cultivate and transport the raw materials under forced labor, which was little different from enslavement for the people affected.1,2
Cotton is a very old crop. Remarkably, at least four societies possibly independently domesticated this plant genus. Twice this occurred in the so-called 'New World' with the species Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium barbadense, and in the 'Old World' once in Asia (Gossypium arboreum) and once in Africa (Gossypium herbaceum).3
Presumably, domestication in the 'Old World' occurred only to the north of the Sahara.3 Accordingly, the attempt to establish cotton cultivation in German colonies in Africa did not encounter pre-existing cultural experience there.
Around 1900, Germany's cotton supply came to a head due to the dominant position of the United States in the cotton market. Between 1900 and 1907, a total of 1.7 million marks was invested in promoting cotton cultivation in the German colonies in order to solve this particular economic problem.1
 Döpker, Tobias (1999): Die Versorgung der deutschen Industrie mit Rohstoffen aus den eigenen Kolonien. Am Beispiel der Baumwolle. Magisterarbeit. GRIN Verlag, München. Online verfügbar unter www.grin.com/document/30183, zuletzt geprüft am 10.02.2023.
 Stadtarchiv Bielefeld (2007): Kolonialware Baumwolle. In: Kauft deutsche Bananen! Kolonialwaren und ihr Handel in Bielefeld. Unter Mitarbeit von Arbeitskreis Bielefeld postkolonial, Barbara Frey, Arnold Schulz, Frigga Tiletschke, Institut Stadtarchiv und Landesgeschichtliche Bibliothek Bielefeld. Online verfügbar unter www.stadtarchiv-bielefeld.de/Portals/0/PDFs/Online-Ausstellungen/Kauft%20deutsche%20Bananen/18_Kolonialwaren_Bielefeld_Baumwolle.pdf, zuletzt geprüft am 10.02.2023.
 Baumwolle. Wikipedia. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baumwolle, zuletzt geprüft am 27.03.2023.