Agricultural change in the Northern Province of Zambia, 1948-1978 : a case study of maize production in Kasama District

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Bwalya, Donald Hezie J
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This dissertation studies agricultural change in the Northern Province of Zambia. It analyzes the agricultural policies and practices of both the Northern Rhodesian Colonial and Zambian Governments between 1948 and 1978. The focus is maize production in Kasama District. There has been misplaced emphasis on the agricultural potential of Northern Province. By analyzing the indigenous agriculture in Kasama District and the agricultural policies and practices of the colonial government, this study establishes why Northern Province in general and Kasama District in particular, did not pick up in maize production during the period of colonial administration. When the British South Africa Company (BSAC) extended its operations to North-Eastern Rhodesia, it introduced tax in 1903. The introduction of taxation in Kasama District pushed males into migrant wage employment thus depriving the indigenous agriculture of able-bodied men. At the same time, the Company also tried to ban chitemene system in Kasama District between 1905 and 1909, in an effort to shift people from producing millet to producing cassava. In the Company's opinion, cassava made tax collection and administration easy because it encouraged permanent settlement. The result was that by the 1940s and 1950s, there was a significant swing from millet to cassava among most families. The colonial government's demand for maize as both cash crop and food for urban workers after the second world war, led to the creation of settlement schemes in Kasama District and elsewhere, in an effort to shift the local population from subsistence to cash cropping. But despite the support given to maize production, peasants in Kasama District did not break away from millet and cassava production. This was due to a number of factors such as the absence of male labour and the competition in labour requirements between subsistence and maize production. Above all, maize itself was not a staple food and this problem was further compounded by the absence of markets and communication networks in the Northern Province. The study has also shown that the agricultural policies and practices of the Zambian Government since the attainment of political independence in 1964 have followed colonial practice closely, extending and adapting it in certain areas. A case in point is Zambia's choice of maize at independence as a major cash and staple crop to the exclusion of other important crops such as cassava, sorghum and millet. Unlike the colonial government which concentrated agricultural infrastructure in Southern and Central Provinces, the Zambian Government, however, in its effort to boost maize production, expanded agricultural infrastructure to the areas which had been neglected during the colonial period. There is no doubt that through the expansion of agricultural infrastructure, coupled with the new duo role assumed by maize as a source of both food and cash income, peasants of Kasama District, like the rest of the Northern Province, were drawn into maize production. The result was substantial increase in maize output from 1964.
Maize production - Kasama , Agricultural policies