African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6693

Full Length Research Paper

Improved seed variety value chains in Zambia: A missed opportunity to improve smallholder productivity

Priscilla Hamukwala1, Gelson Tembo1, J. Mark Erbaugh2 and W. Donald Larson3*      
1Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension Education, University of Zambia (UNZA), Lusaka, Zambia.   2International Programs in Agriculture, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Ohio State University (OSU) Columbus, Ohio, United States.   3Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, the Ohio State University, 2120 Fyffe Road, Columbus, Ohio, United States.  
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 21 August 2012
  •  Published: 04 September 2012


Sorghum and millet are very important sources of food and farm income for smallholder farmers, which can be enhanced especially if linked to new markets. Though viewed as minor traditional crops in Zambia, sorghum and millet remain important food crops for semi-arid areas of the country.  Production and productivity of these crops is low and has been stagnant for over 20 years. In recent years, there have been new market developments creating incentives for farmers to increase productivity. This study uses a value chain framework to examine the challenges and opportunities for sorghum, millet, and maize in Zambia. Information from 130 smallholder farmers, 57 seed dealers, five private seed companies, and two research institutions was collected in Lusaka and Siavonga districts in 2008. Results showed that despite new market opportunities farmers were slow to adopt new technology. Development and release of improved varieties was very slow due to policy and institutional constraints. Also, significant productivity enhancements were impeded by poor access to high-yielding seed varieties, fertilizer, and by government policies and institutions. The value chains for these crops did not promote productivity gains due to low volumes traded, inadequate access to support services of extension, finance and roads as well as policies that subsidize maize to the exclusion of sorghum and millet. These constraints need to be addressed throughout the value chain to ensure productivity gains.


Key words: Seed value chain, challenges, opportunities, maize, sorghum, millet, Zambia.