Access to agricultural advice such as minimum tillage, crop rotations and mixed cropping increases the probability for smallholder farm households in Zambia to diversify their cropping by 1.7%.
This was indicated in a recently published report by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRA), titled “Factors Influencing Smallholder Crop Diversification in Zambia and the Implications for Policy.”
The report notes that such advice should be promoted by the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in order to enhance smallholder crop diversification.
According to the report, other factors affecting crop diversification in Zambia include:
- The value of productive assets at the beginning of the season and landholding size;
- Hours to the nearest urban center;
- Weather conditions as reflected by long-term average rainfall conditions;
- Government key policy instruments, such as the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), are negatively associated with smallholder crop diversification.
The IAPRA report specifies: “An increase in FRA community maize purchases of 10,000MT is associated with a decrease in diversification of 3%, all other factors held constant; a similar increase in fertilizer receipts under the traditional FISP as opposed to using the electronic voucher is associated with a decrease in diversification of 0.1%, all other factors held constant.”
“This suggests that FRA maize purchases have to reduce in order to promote smallholder crop diversification, and that distribution of FISP inputs through the electronic voucher is a clear way forward for Zambian smallholder agriculture.”
Zambia Smallholder Agricultural Diversification
Currently (2016), 98% of the 1.5m smallholder households in Zambia cultivate maize, which occupies 54% of the 1.4m hectares of land under crop production.
About 80% of the Zambian smallholder farm households cultivate not more than 3 crops, of which 18% cultivate only 1 crop, 32%, 2 crops, and 29%, 3 crops.
“Given that 98% of the households grow maize, it is highly likely that maize is the crop grown by those households who produce only one crop,” the report notes.
Moreover, Zambia spends over 60% of the annual public expenditure on agriculture on maize input and output subsidies through FISP and FRA.