Throughout the world, soya beans and seeds are typically cultivated in large plantations. The way plantations have been established are often discussed as what represent the ‘global land grab’. Little has been discussed, however, about how large plantations evolve as they interact with various actors at national and local levels. In Mozambique’s plateaus, the soya sector was initially inspired by the large-scale South American production and it showed characteristics of the land grab. At the same time, it has developed into new types of business models, from contract farming to sourcing, which integrate more than 10,000 smallholders in the value chain. This paper proposes to analyse the evolution of the soya sector in Mozambique, drawing on data collected from 160 households in Gurue district, in the province of Zambezia. It highlights how contract farming that is supposedly more ‘inclusive’ than the large-scale plantation had gone through a boom-andbust cycle, as smallholders have accumulated experience to exercise their agency to deal with the market, investors and fellow producers and begun to exit from the business and sell their produce to the open market. This process reveals how smallholders have exercised their agency to reject the contract and developed the soya bean production as a part of local struggles that are simultaneously influenced by multi-scale land and agricultural development projects of civil society and external donors. The paper concludes that developing the capacities of governments at diferent levels to grasp such evolvement, as well as of smallholders to hold governments accountable for their experience, is vital to make current soya business models socially inclusive and economically viable.
Topic: soyabeans, plantation, land ownership, smallholders, production, markets
Publication Year: 2016
Source: The Public Sphere : 61-86Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.