Maize in Zambia is both the national staple food and the most commonly grown crop by smallholders. As a result, it is the primary focus of public expenditure on agriculture in the country. The legacy of state involvement in Zambia’s maize sector dates back to the early colonial period, with the suite of policy interventions showing surprising continuity to the present day. This section explores broadly smallholder maize production and commercialization patterns over time, with particular attention to the role of state involvement in shaping outcomes within the sector. This background will help to situate the subsequent analysis of vertical and horizontal relationships in the maize market in Zambia.