A history of Nakambala Sugar Estates, 1964-84
Kalyalya, Joy Host
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The question as to whether the plantation system is good or bad for developing countries, is indeed an issue which has aroused much debate among scholars. Whereas some have assessed the system in positive terms, others have analysed it in negative terms. It is, therefore, in this context that an attempt has been made in this study, to examine the nature of the impact of Nakambala Sugar Estate on the area in which it is situated, and on the country as a whole. An attempt has also been made to relate Nakambala Sugar Estate and the Kaleya Smallholders' Scheme to the general discussion,concerning the relative advantages and disadvantages of the estate and smallholder systems of sugar production.The development of Nakambala Sugar Estate has been analysed in terms of the hectarage, cane and sugar output achieved over a period of time. The evidence obtained from this analysis has strongly indicated that in spite of some climatic and technical constraints as well as the rising production coats, production of sugar at Nakambala has greatly expanded over the years. As a result the domestic market has been adequately supplied with locally produced sugar.It is,however,also argued that general workers at Nakambala Sugar Estate are offered poor accommodation and poor wages. It is noted that their wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of living in the country. It is further argued that Zambia Sugar Company has managed to maintain such poor labour conditions at the estate, partly because the National Union of Plantation and Agricultural Workers has bean weak. Evidence has shown that the weakness of the union stems from the fact that most of its leaders, have not been adequately trained in union matters. Consequently, members at Nakambala have become dissatisfied with the union representation. This has been evident from the fact that union officials were beaten at the estate by their own members, during the strike of March, 1980. Because of the union's inability to secure batter terms for its members, the estate's labour relations have continued to be characterized by industrial disputes. It is argued toe that Nakambala Sugar Estate has had greater advantages than the Kaleya Smallholders' Scheme, in terms of technological know - how and financial resources. The scheme has therefore heavily relied on the estate for irrigation infrastructure, technical advice, marketing and many other services. As a result the scheme has been closely linked with the estate's operations. On the whole, it is argued in this study that notwithstanding the competition for resources and the labour problems which are due to the establishment of Nakambala Sugar Estate, these have been ultimately offset by the benefits accruing to the area and the nation, at large. It is, for instance, argued that the production of sugar beyond the national demand, has also afforded the nation an opportunity of earning foreign exchange from sugar exports. Apart from that the provision of basic skills, social and medical services has been a move towards improving the standard of living of the community in the area.