The Gender and Equity Implications of Land-Related Investments on Land Access and Labour and Income-Generating Opportunities: A Case Study of Selected Agricultural Investments in Zambia


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2013. The Gender and Equity Implications of Land-Related Investments on Land Access and Labour and Income-Generating Opportunities: A Case Study of Selected Agricultural Investments in Zambia. Rome: United Nations. 

Authors: Charlotte Wonanai, William Mbuta, Augustine Mkandawire


“In recent years, Zambia has witnessed increased interest from private investors in acquiring land for agriculture. As elsewhere, large-scale land acquisitions are often accompanied with promises of capital investments to build infrastructure, bring new technologies and know-how, create employment, and improve market access, among other benefits. But agricultural investments create risks as well as opportunities, for instance in relation to loss of land for family farmers. While much debate on ‘land grabbing’ has discussed risks and opportunities in an aggregate way, it is critical to understand the distribution of the costs and benefits created by an investment project. For example agricultural investments create gendered outcomes that are poorly understood. Gender inequalities in Zambia, as seen across much of Sub-Saharan Africa, shape access to land, agricultural assets, inputs, services and rural employment opportunities. These gender inequalities are partially responsible for the underperformance of the agricultural sector. Investments in the agriculture sector must therefore account for and challenge these inequalities if they are to deliver their stated benefits.
This study investigates the gender dimensions of agricultural investments in Zambia through two case studies. The first case study is the Kaleya Smallholder Company Ltd (KASCOL), an agribusiness company operating in Mazabuka district in Zambia’s Southern Province since 1980. KASCOL produces sugar cane, which it sells to Zambia Sugar PLC. Cane is produced both from KASCOL’s nucleus estate and from an outgrower scheme currently involving 160 smallholders who hold 14-year renewable sub-leases on company-leased land. The second case is ETC Bio-Energy Limited, previously Mpongwe Development Company (MDC), in Mpongwe District, Copperbelt Province. ETC cultivates a mix of crops, including jatropha, on company run plantations. In 2011 ETC sold the farms to a Zambian multinational agribusiness firm, Zambeef. As this transfer occurred so recently, attention is focused in this report on assessing the experience under MDC and ETC Bio-Energy. Both KASCOL and MDC projects began as joint ventures between the government of Zambia and the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC). This indicates the development orientation of both of the projects from the outset albeit through a vision of agricultural modernisation through large-scale agricultural enterprises. These two cases are not representative of the new wave of land-based investments for agriculture but, because of their duration, have some lessons to share concerning gender and equity in agricultural investments” (Wonani et al. 2013, iv).

Topics: Agriculture, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Gender Equity, Land Grabbing Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zambia

Year: 2013

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at