Zambia’s agriculture sector has been on a consistent growth trajectory, making a substantial contribution of over 30% to the nation’s GDP.
This growth, as assessed by Economist Kelvin Chisanga, has been predominantly driven by the value generated from food production.
The sector has established a strong presence in both local and regional markets, displaying impressive levels of production and productivity in recent years.
Mr. Chisanga underscores the importance of agriculture as a key national sector, highlighting its capacity not only to meet domestic demand but also to serve regional markets.
The Democratic Republic of Congo stands out as the largest importer, and neighboring countries like Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Uganda rely on Zambia’s agricultural output.
Despite this growth, the monetary gains reflected in the GDP profile show only marginal increases. This financial disparity is notable, especially considering the significant workforce employed within the sector.
Nonetheless, the government’s commitment to agriculture is evident in its annual budgetary allocation, which exceeds 400 million US dollars. Initiatives such as the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) and other key support policies play a vital role in ensuring the sector’s sustainability.
The agriculture sector continues to present growth prospects and investment opportunities, with the years 2022 and 2023 experiencing heightened demand and pressure, particularly in the southern region.
The sector’s potential remains largely untapped, especially among small-scale farmers who produce less than 5 tons per hectare.
Zambia’s enduring political stability sets it apart from many regional counterparts. The nation has consistently refined its policies and structures.
However, Mr. Chisanga stresses the importance of effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to bolster the sector further.
The presence of sound policy instruments aimed at enhancing production provides a solid framework for real economic growth. These efforts are pivotal in attracting private sector investments and fostering growth within the sector.
The growth of the food industry is a significant byproduct of the agriculture sector. Over the past five years, this industry has exhibited robust potential, with a 13% growth in 2022, resulting in a GDP value of approximately K 9 billion.
Mr. Chisanga suggests that this signifies Zambia’s potential for further growth, especially with the implementation of policy programs that promote household-level farming for both consumption and sale.
Zambia’s agriculture sector offers substantial opportunities for collective economic growth. With the right policies, support, and monitoring mechanisms in place, it can become a cornerstone of economic development and prosperity for the nation.