Options for agricultural diversification from the farmer’s perspective in Zambia

By Rhoda Mofya Mukuka and Marjolein Mwanamwenge

Despite Government policy aimed at improving food and nutrition security, Zambia’s food and agricultural system remains largely undiversified and is neither providing food security nor adequate nutrition for all.

Households understand the need for agricultural production including: income generation; improving soil fertility; controlling pests; diversifying consumption; providing feed for livestock; and being able to grow foods that can do with little rainfall, but are facing challenges to diversify.

Main factors constraining diversification include lack of access to diverse seed, inadequate market access, lack of financial capital, poor access to land (especially for the youth), and inadequate manpower. Other factors are lack of irrigation, erratic rainfall patterns, susceptibility to pests and diseases, and inadequate knowledge on diversification.

Vegetable production has high potential for income diversification but faces challenges of low irrigation facilities and long distances to markets.

There is low diversity within crop seeds, with maize being the crop with the highest diversity, with 46 per cent of farmers indicating to have grown more than one variety.

Fruit production and consumption is low among the households, with people mainly relying on wild fruits or existing trees.

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