What drives smallholder farmers’ crop production choices in Central Zambia? Lessons from the 2012/2013 agricultural season

Kabwe Harnadih Mubanga, Bridget Bwalya Umar, Jane Muchabi, Chishimba Mubanga

Abstract


The study, conducted in central Zambia was aimed at determining the major drivers of crop production choices among smallholder farmers. It utilized recent national crop production and utilization data; 200 semi-structured interview schedules, and key informant interviews conducted with smallholder farmers and experts from the agricultural sector in Zambia respectively. Results showed that despite being confronted by late on-set of rains and post germination crop attacks by army worms which made maize (Zea mays) production extremely precarious, 61.5% of the affected smallholder farmers replanted their cultivated land with maize. The farmers had a choice of whether to replant maize which had a ready market from the state agency, the Food Reserve Agency, or to plant a drought tolerant crop such as sorghum or millet which would have guaranteed them with household food security from own production. They mainly chose the former option. They increased production of other crops such as soya beans (Glycine max), sun flower(Helianthus annuus) and cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) when contract farming with private business entities became available. Markets determined smallholder farmers’ crop production choices more than household food security from own production or availability of climate information forecasting poor rainfall distribution. The study concludes that (i) prior knowledge of climate information does not necessarily result in a change of smallholder farmers’ crop production choices in response to a predicted climate anomaly, (ii) markets are a major determinant of crops cultivated by smallholder farmers, and hence adaptation measures involving crop diversification should be designed with market availability in mind. 


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jas.v3i2.7125

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Journal of Agricultural Studies   ISSN 2166-0379

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