The availability, access and affordability of food is a highly politicized issue throughout the world. In much of southern Africa, there is a widespread view that governments are responsible for ensuring that their populations have reliable access to food. Zambia, like most countries in Southern Africa, is vigorously pursuing continued direct public sector involvement and protectionist measures in the maize marketing sector. Since 1995, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and more recently, subsidies through the Fertilizer Support Program (FSP), have been the major instruments of government policy. While in some respects current operations undertaken by the government are similar to those adopted at independence, there are some noteworthy changes. Specifically, the private sector is no longer barred by statutory measures. In principle, the private sector is now encouraged to perform marketing functions alongside the public sector. However, in practice, the private sector is often prevented from doing so due to government use of discretionary trade policy instruments, such as variable export bans and restrictions, variable import tariff rates, and government import programs.