Rationale: Nearly 6 million rural people in the country live on just $1.25 a day, 75.5% of the total rural population. Based on the last census results in 2010, 64.4 % of the poor in the country live in the rural areas and the majority of them depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Despite the government of Zambia’s commitment to address the stubbornly high rural poverty through the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) and output price support via the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) rural poverty rates have remained very high. The agricultural sector is a vehicle through which development and poverty reduction can occur in the country. Evidence shows that agricultural growth reduces poverty by twice the rate of growth in nonagricultural sectors (World Bank, 2007; Diao et al., 2007), but in Zambia, this growth is curtailed by the attraction to past ineffective agricultural policies and programs. Government of Zambia’s involvement into the agricultural sector has been failing take into account the changing macro and micro environment resulting from the rapid population growth, urbanization and changing consumption patterns amidst the threat of climate change and natural resource scarcity. Experts have emphasized the crucial importance of increasing agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa in achieving sustainable economic transformation, food security and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (Rosegrant et al. 2006, Timmer, 1998; World Bank, 2007). But productivity in Zambia like most other countries in sub-Saharan Africa remains too low to stimulate this transformation.
Research Priorities: Research under this theme falls under two sub-themes: Agricultural inputs, productivity, and poverty and Farm structure, land access and institutions. The first sub-theme is divided into four sub-themes: a) agricultural technology, land and labour productivity; b) transformation in the farm and nonfarm rural economy; c) research and development; d) mechanization and agricultural productivity and; e) public Investment, market and rural development strategy. The second sub-theme is on farm structure, land access and institutions which is divided into four further sub-themes : a) farm size, agricultural productivity and welfare; b) land institutions and access; c) farm blocks and resettlement and d) agricultural growth strategy-large-scale versus small-scale farmers.