Zambia's food system: multiple sites of power and intersecting governances
Abrahams, Caryn N
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis contributes to research on agrifood systems in Africa. The research agenda is especially relevant in the context of revived developmental interest in agrifood sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa. Existing scholarship has tended to focus on economic restructuring and the way supermarkets and agribusiness firms increasingly transform African food economies. This thesis is an empirically grounded research endeavour that presents insights about key dynamics in the domestic food system in urban Sub-Saharan Africa, as seen through the case of Lusaka, Zambia. It also challenges existing scholarship by looking at transformations in domestic political economy contexts in Africa that promote the development of agrifood systems. The thesis is concerned with (1) what shapes Lusaka’s urban food system or what the key influencing factors are; (2) the institutions that are critical to the functioning of the urban food system; and (3) whether agribusiness firms and retailers govern economic interaction in Zambia or whether these firms and their economic interaction are governed by other institutions, and/or determined by the domestic political economy context. The thesis considers the changes in Zambia’s food system which point to growth paths that are intentionally pursued to strengthen the domestic economy so that it meets domestic priorities. Unexpectedly, this is not the concern of the state alone, but also of agribusiness firms. Other fascinating contradictions also became apparent in the course of the fieldwork, which looked at large agribusiness in the poultry sector, the Zambian National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU), the South African supermarket, Shoprite, urban markets, market traders and small-scale farmers, between January and November 2007. For instance, contractual arrangements between small-scale farmers and agribusiness firms are common, but the supply chain almost always incorporates intermediary traders; urban markets are formalising at management levels; and the supermarket faces growing pressure by the state to source locally. The methods consisted of in-depth interviews with the ZNFU, firms, farmers, traders, managers of urban markets and supermarkets, and the Ministry of Trade and Commerce. In sum, the thesis argues that urban food systems in Africa can be seen as situated or located in a domestic political economy, influenced by domestic and regional processes, and that they are the result of intersecting forms of governance by different firms and non-firm institutions. In offering a detailed case study of localised food systems in Africa, these findings lend to a robust research agenda on food studies and economic growth in Africa, and are well-placed to contribute to work on food security.