CCS Seminar – Aid for trade and Southern African agriculture: the bittersweet case of Swazi sugar 

Speakers: Pamela Ngwenya & Ben Richardson
Date: Thursday 15 November 2012
Time: 12:30-14:00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College 


In 2006, the European Union (EU) reformed its sugar regime, reducing the reference price for sugar by 36%. This affected not just European sugar beet producers, but also sugarcane producers in the eighteen African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which had preferential access to the EU. Swaziland, a country with high levels of rural poverty and an acute reliance on sugar exports to the EU, was hit particularly hard by the reform.  To cushion the impact, the EU agreed to an ‘Aid for Trade’ programme called the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol countries (AMSP). 

This paper explores the impacts of the AMSP in Swaziland.  What we find is something of a mixed picture; what we refer to in the title as a ‘bittersweet case’. Firstly, not all vulnerable groups in the Swazi sugar-belt were targeted for support. Most of the aid was allocated to road building and grants for new smallholders to enter into the sugar industry. Meanwhile, the workers who lost their jobs, the communities who lost access to sugar industry welfare assistance and the existing smallholders, who were mired in debt, were further marginalized. Secondly, the uncertain benefits that have accrued to hundreds of new sugarcane smallholders are jeopardised by the on-going process of liberalisation, as well exposure to volatile world market prices.  This suggests that the EU should reconsider its priorities for such Aid for Trade programmes. 

Pamela Ngwenya

Having obtained her doctorate on the subject of ‘The Ethical Geographies of Caribbean Sugar’ from the University of Oxford in 2009, Pamela is now a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies and an affiliate of the Centre for Civil Society. Her research interests include agro-food politics, ethical philosophies, feminist geographies, experimental and creative methodologies. She is currently researching sustainable food strategies in Zimbabwe and is also a participatory and community video facilitator for the CCS, with on-going video projects.

Ben Richardson

Based at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick Ben is currently an Associate Professor in International Political Economy. Prior to joining the University of Warwick, he studied at the University of Sheffield where he received his PhD in International Political Economy (IPE) in 2008, on the subject of sugar and the EU Sugar Reform.

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