According to the Seventh National Development Plan of Zambia (2017-2021), the key sectors towards Economic Diversification include;


The Agriculture sector is very critical for achieving diversification, economic growth, and poverty reduction in Zambia. This sector is the fourth largest contributor to GDP and the largest contributor to employment. It contributes about 19 percent to GDP and employs majority share of the population. Family agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy and thus holds great potential for modernization due to its predominance.4

Given the potential for increased agricultural output and the importance of agriculture to the Zambian labor force, the Government is prioritizing agriculture as a means of driving diversified growth but the reality is that Agricultural output is far below what is possible. According to the  Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), 58% of Zambia’s land area has medium to high agricultural potential, but less than 20% of agricultural land is currently in use. Agriculture represents roughly 20% of total Zambian GDP and 10% of its total exports, yet it employs over 70% of Zambia’s population.5

Agriculture is very viable but has been with its challenges. The 2018/2019 farming season underscored the continued challenges of climate change and therefore the importance of risk mitigation and management measures. Addressing climate-related challenges requires the adoption of climate-smart agricultural technologies and practices. These are already being disseminated in the 2019/2020 farming season and will continue in the subsequent farming seasons. We also observe that in order to reduce dependency on rain-fed agriculture, Government is pursuing various irrigation development projects and an example is the Mwomboshi dam in Chisamba District which has been completed, while the irrigation scheme will be completed in 2020. There are other notable projects currently being developed. 

In relation to the FISP, Government is continuing with the implementation of the  Farmer Input Support Programme with 60% under direct input supply and 40% under the e-voucher system. Over 716,000 farmers accessed inputs under the e-voucher system. Further, around 5,800 agro-dealers throughout the country have been involved in the supply of agro-inputs. The challenge here is to reform the implementation and management of the Farmer Input Support Programme so as to cut the administrative costs as well as avoid wastage.


For Instance, IGC (2018) reported that Investigations into the exports markets for sugar, coffee, and cotton showed increasing global demand for these commodities and that current preferential trade arrangements governing these markets are important for ensuring market access for Zambian products and subsequently increased income potential for producers in these subsectors. Lack of financing and high transactions costs have emerged as key cross-cutting constraints for all sub-sectors.6 Efforts to promote export diversification in these sectors, therefore, needs to focus on programmes that ease financial access particularly for small scale farmers, as well as promote investment in infrastructure that will reduce transaction costs of doing business in Zambia.

In the livestock sub-sector, the prevalence of animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease has negatively affected its performance in recent years. There exists several opportunities to grow this sub-sector and increase our production to export. New markets are also being pursued with the most recent one being the supply of goats to Saudi Arabia. To address this situation, Government is stepping up farmer sensitisation, vaccinations, movement restrictions, and enforcement of bio- security measures on farms. Further, construction and rehabilitation of dip tanks across the country has continued. Infrastructure development in this sector will also be key especially with the need to develop dipping tanks and breeding centres across the country.

Aquaculture also presents a viable opportunity for diversification. There is need to enhance capacity among fish farmers through training and mechanization. There should also be incentives to stimulate activity in this sector. Notable developments include the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project which aims to train more than 1,000 farmers by 2022. Another development is the Fisheries Development Fund, but it still remains to be seen how much has been realized in this fund.  Therefore, to realize diversification in the Agriculture sector and promote growth, emphasis should be placed on agricultural diversification in crops, fisheries, livestock and forestry products based on comparative and competitive advantage of each product and agro-ecological zones.