Agriculture and Food Security

Agriculture accounts for about 18 – 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides the livelihood for   more than 50 percent of the Zambian population. In spite of the important role that the sector plays in the country’s economy, the agricultural production has remained low (CSPR, 2000) thereby negatively affecting food and nutritional Plate:  It provides a livelihood for more than   half of the population, including the rural poor, who constitute 83% of the Zambian population living in poverty (CSO, 1998; NACP, 2003). The agricultural sector absorbs 67% of the labour force and is the main source of income for rural women who constitute 65% of the rural population (NACP, 2003); Agriculture in Zambia generates between 18 and 20% of the GDP.  Agricultural growth benefits the poor most a 1% increase in agricultural yield reduces the percentage of people living on less than 1$ per day between 0.6 - 1.2% (DFID, 2003).



The major problems causing low food production in Zambia are declining soil fertility, low use of external inputs, loss of soil organic matter and soil structural damage due to poor land husbandry practices. Other constraints are natural disasters such as flash floods and droughts, limited access to capital, poor information on appropriate technologies and poor marketing arrangements.

Over 1.35 million Zambians (10% of the analyzed population) are experiencing severe food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 - Crisis) between July and September 2022, due to high food prices and climatic shocks This population requires urgent humanitarian action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods, and prevent acute malnutrition. (IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis July 2022 – March 2023). To respond to this food insecurity crisis, RFDP Zambia is striving to improve food security in Zambia through promoting sustainable and climate smart Agriculture.

Rural Communities in the 10 provinces of Zambia are heavily dependent on small holder agriculture. With increased prices of farming inputs such as fertilizers and seed. Sustainable and smart Agriculture proves to be the means of enhancing meaningful production of food in rural Zambia for a more food secure household. Most essential crops such as Maize, soya beans are seasonal in Zambia. Improved production saves households by reducing their risk of food insecurity during these times of the year.


RFDP works to bridge the capacity and skills gap in the small holder farmers in sustainable agriculture by incorporating smart agriculture systems and technologies and implementing the following interventions;

  1. Sustainable soil and land management for increased crop production.
  2. Crop residue management for soil carbon conservation and sequestration.
  3. Incorporated conservation farming practices through promoting minimum soil disturbance in the growing of crops such as legumes and cereals.
  4. Investing in water harvesting initiatives to avoid water wastage through run-off and small-scale irrigation systems.
  5. Promoting the production and development of markets for drought tolerate crops in Zambia.
  6. Capacity building of extension staff in climate smart agriculture practices and the promotion of the practices among all smallholder farmers in Zambia.
  7. Enhancing the early warning system in the country so as to equip both farmers and extension staff with adequate data and information on the likely performance of the upcoming season
  8. Promotion of commercial Agro Forestry especially in areas where trees have depleted and with degraded soils- this can be a serious cash cow for small holder farmers.


Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato Project

The Overall Objective of this project was to contribute to increased frequency of intake of vitamin A rich foods, amongst 2,750 households especially of women and children under five years of age, and improve overall household food security and diet diversification in Lundazi and Lumezi Districts.

The project reached over 2,750 households and 70% of the project beneficiaries were women. The project contributed to the increase of household income levels, production levels at farm level and contributed to the decrease in post-harvest losses.

This was achieved through the effective dissemination of pro-vitamin A rich, orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties and improved production, conservation, and utilization techniques linked to increased nutritional knowledge. The project addressed the following outputs.


Project Outputs

  1. Smallholder Farmers sustainably increased OFSP production and yields at farm level and decreased production costs at farm level.
  2. 2,750 Households which had women with children under 5 years of age, were growing and consuming OFSP in Lundazi district.
  3. Improved market access of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato for Small Holder farmers, increased incomes and improve livelihood.
  4. Farmers decreased post-harvest losses and improved post-harvest quality at farm level.
  5.  Establishment of improved access to quality planting material in target areas through improved foundation ―seed management, creation of a network of decentralized trained farmer multipliers, and adoption of improved on-farm vine conservation techniques.
  6.  Improved food security and dietary practices among rural households that ensured women in particular benefited from OFSP-based nutrition and market interventions in Lundazi district.
  7. Established, active and knowledgeable sweet potato community of practice, focused on integration of OFSP into maize-dominated cropping systems and on raising the profile of sweet potato among practitioners and policy makers in Zambia.

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