Trial and error: The introduction of plants and animals to German Micronesia 1885–1914

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In the absence of real strategic interest in her Micronesian possessions, Imperial Germany set out to administer the Islands Territory of Micronesia with as little financial effort as possible. To maximize returns from the colonies, the German administrators assessed the agricultural potential of the islands and set about introducing plant varieties for trial and future commercial planting. This paper traces the history of the animal and plant introductions to Micronesia and compiles the available evidence. The administrators were caught in an economic mindset circumscribed by copra production as well as by the need to grow crops of strategic potential, such as rubber-producing plants. While initially reliant on the interest and initiative of the local administrators, agricultural experimentation became increasingly centralized. The absence of fully trained agricultural advisors, especially in the later years of the German colonial administration, meant that plants of great commercial potential, such as sugarcane in the Marianas, were never trialled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-528
Number of pages23
JournalThe Journal of Pacific History
Issue number4
Early online date12 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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