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Promote access to markets – IAPRI

GREEN FARMERS are being encouraged to manage weeds in fields to encourage water retention and better soil quality.

KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) says Government should come up with resources that promote easy access to markets to influence crop diversification.
But IAPRI notes that Zambia’s sectoral policy focuses on maize input and output subsidies instead of crop diversification which is a proven strategy to stabilise, diversify and enhance farm households’ income and nutrition.
In a latest report on, What factors drive smallholder farmers’ crop diversification in Zambia?’ IAPRI says there is need to develop feeder roads, warehouse receipt systems, and market intermediaries as they are key to increase market access.
“Access to markets tends to positively influence crop diversification. This implies that deliberate effort and resources need to be devoted to developing input, output and food markets in remote areas of the country. Government needs to create an enabling environment in which alternative agricultural value chains can flourish,” IAPRI said.
The institute said the agriculture sector offers potential to contribute significantly to national gross domestic product through producing a diversified range of products for the local and international markets.
IAPRI said the current and past agricultural development policies have inclined towards promoting maize production and this has negatively impacted on crop diversification.
The institute notes that there is strong evidence that diversification in agriculture has tremendous benefits on uplifting poor smallholder farmers, and that if well implemented, it can be used as a tool to improve household incomes, reduce malnutrition, alleviate poverty, and conserve water and soil.

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