Small scale farmers adjustment to agricultural economic liberalisation in selected villages of Kasama District, Northern Province, Zambia
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This report aims at investigating the adjustment strategies that small scale farmers have adopted in response to government shrinking role in the provision of agricultural support services to the farmers and the increasing participation of the private agencies in the delivery of these support services in selected villages of Kasama district. The respondents in the three selected villages, Musa, Mulanshi and Lukupa were randomly selected. Data was collected using the scheduled structured interview which was administered to the respondents by the researcher. The other information was obtained from the agricultural officers and agricultural institutions using an interview guide. Govemment efforts to improve the agricultural sector through research, provision of credit, uniform pricing system, subsidised agricultural inputs and marketing enabled the majority of the rural farmers in Kasama district to have surplus maize yields. This, however, made the farmers to neglect the old systems of cultivation in favour of the modem ones. This was prior to the 1990s and before economic liberalisation.In the post 1990s economic liberalisation took rural farmers by surprise. Instead of improving their agricultural performance, it actually worsened things. It marginalised the activities of the small scale farmers. This category of farmers lack finds to purchase expensive inputs brought about by the removal of subsidies, they lack storage facilities and lack reliable markets for their produce. These issues have been compounded by the poor road infrastructure and the effects of these problems on the rural farmers have been devastating.The farmers in selected villages of Kasama district have adjusted by adopting the alternative low cost techniques of crop cultivation and the cultivation of crops that require less or no mineral fertilizer. Farmers now and without any well established formal marketing systems are selling their produce to individual customers either for cash or in exchange with other goods at poorly organised local markets.These adjustment strategies, especially the alternative low cost techniques are very fragile and although they incorporate traditional knowledge that has existed for a very long period of time, they fail to yield greater positive results in that they are being applied on soils that initially were too dependent on chemical fertilizers. Marketing systems that are unreliable and informal segregate the rural farmers from the formal national economy. Such marketing systems are undesirable and retrogressive. All in all small scale farmers have a major role to play in the provision of food to the majority of the people. It is therefore, important that this category of farmers is incorporated in the entire national economy.
- Natural Sciences