According to the World Bank, in 2013, Zambia agriculture sector’s aggregated value was USD 4.028 billion, accounting for 18% of the country’s GDP, estimated at USD 22.38 billion.
Agriculture generated 10% of Zambia’s foreign exchange earnings in 2011.
In 2010, Zambia’s agriculture sector confirmed itself as the country’s first employer, providing jobs to more than 3,042,000 people corresponding to 66.5% of the country’s labor force.
Zambia territory is 75 million hectares (752,000 km2) large, of which 58% (42 million hectares) is classified as medium to high potential for agriculture production.
Around 15% of this land is currently under cultivation.
Overall, the climate is favorable to agriculture: Zambia’s climate is classified as mostly tropical, with small parts of its territory classified as semi-arid.
Average temperatures are comprised between 17,5 and 25,5 C° while average rainfalls are comprised between 0 and 200 mm per month, during the 2 rainy and dry seasons.
Zambia is a landlocked country, but thanks to its numerous rivers, lakes and underground water resources, the country concentrates 40% of Southern and Central Africa’s water resources on its own.
Zambia Agriculture Sector and Subsectors
The Zambian agriculture sector comprises crops, livestock and fisheries.
The country’s staple crop and most cultivated is corn (maize).
Other major crops include: cotton, soybeans, tobacco, groundnuts, paprika, sorghum, wheat, rice, sunflower seeds, coffee, as well as sugar, fruits, other vegetables and flowers.
Zambia is also one of the biggest seed exporters in Africa, exporting a recorded total of 17,891 tons of certified seeds to other African countries in 2011.
The livestock sub-sector produces everything derived from cattle, as well as dairy products, chicken, eggs, pigs, hides and skins.
According to the National Agriculture Policy Draft of December 2013 (NAPD 2013), livestock is recognized as a growing force in Zambia’s agricultural economy, accounting for 7% of the country’s GDP.
The draft policy also highlights the sub-sector’s potential, with 42% of Zambia’s total landmass being suitable for livestock and 21% for rangeland grazing.
Fisheries produce 70,000 metric tons of fish per year, accounting for about 3.2% of Zambia’s GDP.
87% of the production comes from capture fisheries and 13% from the newly implemented aquaculture.
According to the NAPD 2013, due to Zambia’s endowment in water resources, fisheries are estimated to have the potential to produce 150,000 metric tons of fish per year on a sustainable basis.
Zambeef Products Ltd., a public listed company at the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LUSE) and the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM), is one of the leading players in Zambia agri-business.
The group collected USD 300 million in revenues in 2013 and exports Zambian agriculture products to other countries in Southern, Central and Western Africa.
In Zambia, Zambeef owns 89 retail outlets, 2 wholesale centers, 7 fast food outlets, and 20 Shoprite butcheries, in addition to its plants in each sub-sector of the agriculture sector.
Another leading Zambian agri-business group in the country is Superior Milling Ltd.
The group produces the renowned Mealile brand of maize products, and remains Zambians’ miller of choice due to its high quality but low price products.
Despite all its positive predispositions, agriculture in Zambia remains largely underexploited with only 15% of its potential arable land under cultivation.
The Zambian fisheries sector currently produces less than half of its fully exploited potential.
Likewise, the livestock hasn’t fully exploited the total landmass’ potential.
Zambia National Agriculture Policy Draft 2013 aims to tackle the sector’s issues through adequate strategies.
These strategies include: increasing its production and productivity, strengthening agricultural extension service delivery, increasing the area of land under irrigation as well as levels of mechanization among smallholder farmers, improving the efficiency of agricultural markets for inputs and outputs, promoting accessibility to financing and credits, increasing the private sector’s participation, improving food security, and implementing environment-friendly practices.
In relation to promoting the accessibility and availability to financing and credits in agriculture, Zambia recently saw the implementation of the Lima credit scheme.
The scheme involved the collaboration between the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) and the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO), that gave 4,026 farmers receiving seasonal loans via a portfolio of ZMW 18,000,000 during the 2011/12 season.
On August 25th 2014, the 2 entites partnered again to launch the Loan-A-Cow credit scheme that eased credit access for dairy farmers.
ZANACO Managing Director Bruce Dick declared that the bank had continued to grow its agriculture loanbook and was currently financing 20,000 farmers.
In the National Agriculture Policy Draft 2013, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Hon. Robert K.K Sichinga MP said that the policy provided « Great scope for attaining sustainable food and nutrition security particularily at national level and contributing significantly to profitability of agriculture enterprises, increased income generation, poverty reduction, job creation, as well as increased contribution of the agriculture sector to Gross Domestic Product ».