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Large-scale Agricultural Investments and Livelihood Dynamics on the Zambian 'Sugarbelt'

Manda, Simon (2019) Large-scale Agricultural Investments and Livelihood Dynamics on the Zambian 'Sugarbelt'. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Current discourse on “agriculture for development” generally serves smallholders in developing countries poorly: their visibility in international development and policy processes is minimal and their exclusion from large-scale agricultural investments (LaSAIs) constructed as a “problem.” While LaSAIs have brought optimism around agriculture for development, identifying what more national actors can do in sub-Saharan Africa requires further investigation. The dominant narrative is that LaSAIs, value-chain expansion and ensuing coordination schemes for smallholders are development-oriented and inclusive but these claims remain contentious in the context of national politics, power dynamics and institutional processes, and how they shape rural livelihoods and welfare. Grounded in an interdisciplinary case study strategy that integrates the Global Value Chain (GVC) framework and the Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA), this thesis explores the extent to which LaSAIs impact local development and rural livelihoods among smallholder sugarcane growers in Zambia. Drawing on multiple frameworks of analysis at national, industry and local level, it takes a mixed methods approach drawing on interviews at multiple levels, together with participatory approaches and a survey at the community level to develop case studies of two structurally different smallholder outgrower schemes linked to Zambia Sugar Plc, a subsidiary of a multinational corporation Illovo Plc.. Connections are particulalry made between how LaSAIs are framed in the context of national institutional and governance dynamics, inclusionary and exclusionary dynamics, local livelihoods and response pathways among smallholders, and industry practices as they relate to an agribusiness power and influence. This study reveals four key processes that affect LaSAIs and structural transformation in Zambia. First is that possibilities for LaSAIs are created by state institutions but their potential is limited through competing policy developments and governance processes that heighten tensions between and among different institutions. Second is that emerging inclusionary and exclusionary dynamics reflect agribusiness-state-donor relations and that implementation of projects remains problematic for industry and local participation. Third, the livelihood analysis reveals that sugarcane cultivation does enhance household incomes but this focus on financial capital neglects other forms of capital relevant in shaping livelihood response pathways. Schemes that enable access to natural capital such as land beside sugarcane provides greater livelihood impacts across finacial capital and other benefits, but these remain low quality, and fail to produce significant path-changing gains for households. Fourth is the way policy and governance dynamics at macro-level, patterns of inclusion and exclusion at meso-level, and livelihoods at micro-level play out reflect how an agribusiness’ power exploits national, regional and local domains to exert control over policy developments, industry governance and influence sustainable development – referred to as “power of presence.” Corporations limit smallholder participation through tight controls on production resources and structures which reflect the limits and importance of power dynamics, and domestic institutions in mediating corporate standards and practices. This thesis provides insight into the role of national institutional and governance dynamics in LaSAIs and agricultural expansion and how buyer-grower relations shape control over productive resources and influence at local level. In so doing, it makes visible the centrality of power, politics and institutional processes in LaSAIs and how they shape policy developments, rural social differentiation and agrarian change. The analysis links the implementation and coordination of investments to how mandates, overlaps and responsibilities among state agencies can be made clear and improve decisions around resources. It provides an understanding of how actors can participate in local spaces and closer to schemes to create suportive frameworks for local participants and poverty reduction. Recognition of macro-meso-micro interdependences should inform policies, institutions and investments to enhance rural livelihoods and development, specifically measures on resource availability, access and utilisation. Policy strategies should clarify the role of LaSAIs and their relationships with local participants and key politcal and economic instruments should be strengthened for this purpose. State institutions should advance a state-donor-agribusiness collaboration for policy development, industry structure, and organisation of smallholder outgrower schemes. In particular, strategies and regulatory mechanisms need to be strenghthened to encourage cross-sector cooperation and coordination of policy developments, social and political efforts around “agriculture for development” in Zambia and elsewhere across sub Saharan Africa.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Large-scale agricultural investments; Livelihoods; Outgrower schemes; Response pathways; Sugarbelt; Zambia
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Sustainability Research Institute (Leeds)
Depositing User: Simon Manda
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2019 16:57
Last Modified: 19 May 2020 06:17
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22700

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