Zambia's Stop-And-Go Revolution: The Impact of Policies and Organizations on the Development and Spread of Maize Technology

December 30, 1996 - <> and Catherine Mungoma

IDWP 61. Julie A. Howard and Catherine Mungoma. 1996. 39 pp.Zambia's Stop-And-Go Revolution: The Impact of Policies and Organizations on the Development and Spread of Maize Technology


Zambia's agricultural sector is indisputably dominated by maize. Maize is planted on 70 percent
of total crop area, and is the main staple for its population of nine million, in both urban and
rural areas. Zambians consume more than 170 kilograms of maize per person annually, one of
the highest consumption rates in Africa (FAO 1994).

For the past 20 years, Zambia has provided a unique laboratory for examining the impact of
institutions and organizations on the development and dissemination of maize technology.
Zambian maize production increased nearly fourfold from the early sixties to the late eighties
because of a combination of surplus land, new varieties better suited to smallholder conditions,
favorable input prices, the physical availability of input and product marketing outlets, and good
weather (Figure 1). Increased maize production accelerated the agricultural growth rate to 3.4
percent annually during the 1980s, among the highest rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Government
expenditures in support of maize were unsustainable, however, consuming seventeen percent of
the total government budget by the late 1980s. Since the late 1980s, the implementation of
structural adjustment programs, which liberalized marketing and financial services formerly
dominated by the government, has contributed to a decline in maize area and production.

This chapter explores how Zambia's policy and organizational environment has shaped the
development, spread, and more recently, the disadoption of maize technology. It also traces the
political motivations that drove the establishment of the policy and organizational framework
supporting maize production and impeded the efficient operation of the parastatal-managed
marketing system. Options facing Zambian policy makers for increasing food production under
evolving political and economic conditions are discussed in the light of these experiences


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