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French Beans and Food ScaresCulture and Commerce in an Anxious Age$
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Susanne Freidberg

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169607

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195169607.001.0001

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Zambia: Settler Colonialism and Corporate Paternalism

Zambia: Settler Colonialism and Corporate Paternalism

Chapter:
(p.92) (p.93) 4 Zambia: Settler Colonialism and Corporate Paternalism
Source:
French Beans and Food Scares
Author(s):

Susanne Freidberg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780195169607.003.0006

For many years, urban planners’ description of the Zambian capital Lusaka as a “garden city” seemed a cruel and even preposterous misnomer. Potholed and polluted, the city was more colloquially described as a pit. Indeed, parts of town rang with the sounds of a quarry, though the country’s main mineral wealth lay several hours drive to the north. Lusaka’s roadside rockbreakers, men and women who hammered limestone into gravel, epitomized to foreign journalists the disintegration of Zambia’s once-booming economy. But by the year 2000, the old planners’ term for Lusaka had taken on an unanticipated truth. The rock-breakers were still there, and probably not earning much more than the eight dollars a week they earned several years before. But now the roads they worked alongside led, in fact, to vast gardens—thousands of verdant acres producing the down-sized vegetables found in London’s upscale supermarkets: baby corn, baby carrots and baby patty pan squash; miniature chilies, mangetout peas, and, of course, fine-grade green beans. Lusaka had become a garden city on an industrial scale. Agriculture on the margins of Lusaka was by no means new (Sanyal 1987), but now that it contributed to export earnings rather than simply the urban food supply, it fueled new hopes for economic recovery. Even though the horticultural sector (encompassing roses and fruits as well as vegetables) comprised only a small part of the national economy, it was by far the most dynamic part, growing at 20 percent a year. Zambians had witnessed double-digit growth rates before, when postwar demand for the country’s copper fueled what some observers saw as the African Industrial Revolution, a period of economic and social change “not seen in thousands of years” (Mitchell 1951, 21). The reversal of Copperbelt fortune from the mid-1970s onward gave cause for skepticism about any kind of boom, and the successes of the horticultural sector appeared particularly fragile. Apart from the intrinsic fragility of the commodities themselves, Zambia’s vegetable export firms had to contend with supermarket clients who demanded much and brooked no slipups.

Keywords:   AIDS, COLEACP, Due diligence, Ethical trade, Irrigation, London, Malnutrition, Salmonella

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