Zambia: Sustaining Agricultural Diversification
Federico Bonaglia ()
OECD Journal: General Papers, 2009, vol. 2009, issue 2, 103-131
Zambia has a huge agricultural potential, which is still largely untapped, and could play a key role in growth and poverty eradication. Since the early 2000s, the government has implemented important reforms to promote privatisation and trade reforms, leading to higher investment and a strong growth in export crops such as cotton and horticulture. Despite this success, agricultural productivity, especially for food crops, remains low. The study shows that public resources to the agricultural sector have drastically decreased since the early 1990s, while private sector providers have not stepped in to fill the void left by the government disengagement from input supply and marketing. Despite a strong government commitment to reverse this trend, budget figures show that the share in total allocations dropped again in the 2008 budget. The study also argues that evaluations of past donor interventions in agriculture are not very positive, especially in terms of their sustainability. Projects often paid little attention to local absorptive and implementing capacity, had too narrow a focus on production and food security, and lacked an adequate understanding of the socio-economic conditions and behaviour of the target groups. Lack of co-ordination resulted in duplications and insufficient scale. A new generation of donor projects emerged in the early 2000s, with a strong focus on commercialisation and the development of market linkages, especially via contract farming. These projects have borne good results in terms of production volumes, quality standards and access to international commodity chains, as well as farmers’ income. The key challenge for donors is to scale up these success cases and ensure sustainability. The implementation of the Joint Assistance Strategy for Zambia 2007-2010 is an opportunity to achieve a better division of labour, strengthen synergies on the ground and reduce transaction costs for government. Acknowledgements The Zambia
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