The impact of agricultural market liberalisation on small scale female farmers in Mapanza, Choma District
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Small scale female farmers play an important role in promoting food security at household and national levels in many developing countries, including Zambia. In spite of this, female farmers' participation in agricultural activities has been hampered by many constraints especially those that emerged with the introduction of agricultural market liberalisation policy in Zambia. Zambia adopted the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and liberalised many of its economic activities in 1992, in the hope of improving the national economy. The aim of the study was to assess the impact of the agricultural market liberalisation on the small scale female farmers in Mapanza area of Choma district in Southern Province. The specific objectives of the study were to: (i) examine the effect of the new agricultural market liberalisation on small scale female farmers; (ii) identify the type of agricultural enterprises undertaken by female farmers; (iii) compare the production of the small scale female farmers in the MMD era with that of the controlled policies in the UNIP era; (iv) assess female farmers' accessibility to land and (v) to assess problems faced by female farmers carrying out agricultural activities. Data was collected through the use of structured questionnaires, unstructured interviews, simple field observations and literature review. Collected data was analysed by the frequency percentage approach. Analysis of data revealed that liberalisation in agriculture has had a negative effect on the small scale female farmers in a variety of ways. Female Farmers' production especially in maize decreased from an average of 43 to 21 (90kg) bags between the 1989 and 1998 period due to a number of reasons. These included the female farmers' inability to purchase inputs after the removal of subsidies, difficulties in fixing prices, high transport costs and availability of poor markets in local places. However, not only were the female farmers affected by the impact of liberalisation but also by environmental problems such as drought, floods, corridor diseases and also by the socio-economic impacts low levels of education and of interaction between female farmers and the extension officers. Finally, recommendations for future improvement of the agricultural production of female farmers and farming in general are made. It is hoped that the recommendations will go a long way in bringing about positive change in the agricultural sector of Zambia.