Zambia has just been commemorating Farmer’s Day, which is of great importance to the agriculture sector and economy at large. We take stock of the gains made in promoting diversification of the economy. Agriculture has clearly emerged as the Government’s torch bearer and sector of choice to push Zambia’s economic diversification programme for obvious reasons and the 2018 Budget bears proof of this. It links well with the 7NDP whose aspirations are centred on a diversified and export-oriented agriculture sector. 

In the 2017 Budget Address, Government made strong commitments to promote diversification and wealth creation in many sectors of the economy. This included the promotion of value addition in the forestry sector with a proposal to introduce specific rates on the export of unprocessed and semi-processed timber products at the rate of K10 per kg and K5 per kg respectively. Other measures included support to economic diversification and promoting capital investment by increasing the capital allowance for plant, equipment and machinery used in farming and agro-processing to 100 percent from 50 percent.

Zambia’s aspirations to diversify its economy away from the mining industry to other sectors such as agriculture and forestry are fully supported by the Seventh National Development Plan, which states that; the forestry industry, if properly nurtured, can significantly contribute to employment and wealth creation. Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) currently employs a good number of people under the tree planting exercise, financed by the Government. Estimates made by ZAFFICO management indicate that , land clearing, preparation and planting of 40,000 hectares of land would provide direct employment opportunities to 40,000 seasonal employees. If this exercise was to be undertaken in designated sites in all the provinces at an expanded rate, the impact on job creation and incomes would be significant. This will contribute to eliminating social exclusion faced by the majority of the people who are unskilled and have had no employment opportunities for decades. In addition to this, strategic interventions set out to achieve this include the acquisition of 50,000 hectares of land in each province for forest plantations to be established by ZAFFICO, support for value addition to wood and non-wood forest products, promotion of investments through public-private partnerships in environment, forestry and other natural resources and the promotion of applied research on forests, forest products and the environment.

Given Zambia’s Demographic Dividend Study findings which assessed the economic and human development potential of the country in the short, medium and long-term using a comprehensive approach, the country can harness a “demographic dividend,” resulting from declining mortality and fertility rates, strong institutional capacities, healthy and skilled human capital, improved decent job prospects and an inclusive governance system. To take advantage of this prospect an enabling environment needs to be created that ensures citizens claim their rights to education, health, development, and live free from violence and discrimination. The demographic dividend report for Zambia requires timely, strategic, targeted and simultaneous investments in various sectors of the economy in an integrated manner, and enables the translation of policies into equitable, cost-effective interventions that leave “no one” behind.

Diversifying the economy and reducing over-dependence on the extractive industry by modernising the agriculture sector and prioritising value addition requires well thought out policy interventions for monitoring and evaluation and constant planning processes.

Zambia’s forests are endowed with some of the most valuable timber resources that include the Mukula tree, scientifically called “Pterocarpus erinaceus” which takes about 80 to 90 years to fully mature. Dubbed as Zambia’s Forest Gold Resource, the Mukula tree has the potential to increase Zambia’s Resource Mobilisation efforts and contribute to the country’s earnings through export of finished timber products and increased investments in the sector.

A Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) study titled ‘Informality, global capital, rural development and the environment: Mukula (Rosewood) trade between China and Zambia.’ published in March 2018 examined the political economy of the international Mukula trade and the role of global capital, in particular that of Chinese origin in Zambia, and its impacts on rural livelihoods, the environment and resource governance.

The study showed that rural villagers increasingly forged direct links with foreign investors and produced innovative business models that accelerate the rate of small-scale production and extraction of resources under limited Government supervision. In 2017 the Government banned the harvesting, transportation, trading and exportation of the Mukula tree in accordance with Statutory Instrument (SI) number 94 of 2015 and also mandated the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation Limited (ZAFFICO) to auction confiscated Mukula.

PMRC therefore recommends that the Government of the Republic of Zambia protect the Zambian forests against depletion and take stock of the resource availability for better planning. The recommended stock assessment of the timber resources must be conducted on a regular basis to ensure the country has accurate stock information. Given the challenges that threaten the existence of Zambia’s forests and tree species such as the Mukula there is need to improve the capacity of local forestry departments which are poorly staffed, leaving vast areas of forest in different parts of the country open to illegal activities such as deforestation. There is urgent need to shift local mindsets and attitudes towards the environment by encouraging the protection of tree species such as the Mukula by  members of local communities.

The National Forestry Policy and the Forests Act, which contain provisions for Community Forest Management (CFM), Joint Forest Management (JFM) and Private Forest Management (PFM) to supplement the forestry department’s lack of capacity to manage Zambia’s protected forest estate must be implemented for Zambia to realise its full potential and promote sustainable forest management practices. This can be achieved through participation of communities, traditional authorities and NGOs in the management of forests to bolster capacity to manage, monitor and enforce the principles of sustainable forest management.

Government needs to constantly assess and implement measures included in the Forests Act of 2015, including community, joint and private forest management to achieve diversification, wealth creation and attract investment in the forest/timber processing sectors.

Explaining Critical Features Of The 7NDP – Part 2  | Theme: Economic Diversification and Job Creation


According to statistics in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), agriculture sector is the fourth largest contributor to GDP (8.7 percent) and the largest contributor to employment. The sector is critical for achieving diversification, economic growth and poverty reduction in Zambia. We observe that the 7NDP will focus on agricultural development, considering two major leverage effects:

Increasing farmers’ incomes directly supports rural demand, which results in the development of new activities and the diversification of the local economy, contributing to the overall process of structural transformation.

Increasing agricultural outputs leads to the development of both upstream and downstream activities, the consolidation of value chains and the expansion of agro-industries, which are significant sources of employment and present ideal opportunities for economic diversification.

Diversification within the agriculture sector will be central in improving productivity, providing inputs to agro-processing and the manufacturing sector, for increased contribution to foreign exchange earnings among others. Agro-diversification and development will thus be based on comparative and competitive advantages in line with the Government’s Green Revolution agenda. From the 7NDP it is clear that focus will be placed on improving production of high value exports, such as cashew nuts, coffee, maize, wheat, tea, cotton, sugar, fish, agro-forestry and livestock products as well as other commodities to support the local manufacturing sector. Further, in view of agriculture development, suffice to say that, irrigation development remains a key intervention for increasing crop diversification, production and productivity.

Fisheries Potential: Fisheries offer great potential for diversification, gainful employment and poverty reduction. The fisheries sub-sector in Zambia is however, underdeveloped contributing around 3.2 percent to national GDP and many natural water bodies have been overfished due to inadequate legislation, control and surveillance. Thus, the transformation of both livestock and fisheries into diversified, competitive and export-oriented sub-sectors envisaged over the 7NDP period will require increased investment in water management and aquaculture-related infrastructure, ICT, logistics, storage, cold chain and road infrastructure.


Strategy 1: Improve production and productivity

Production and productivity improvement to be undertaken along the entire product value chain from farm to agro-processing and manufacturing at the sector and enterprise levels. The increase in production will be achieved through intensified agricultural mechanization, increasing the area under cultivation and the number of farmers participating in production.

Strategy 2: Improve access to finance for production and exports

This strategy will focus on enhancing access to affordable finance for farmers, agri-business MSMEs and exporters of high value agricultural products. Other interventions will include access to finance for auxiliary services to production and exports.

Strategy 3: Enhance agriculture value chains

Development in the sector value chains will include investment in production, agro-processing and marketing, including export market and distribution mechanisms. Value chain development will promote the participation of small and medium enterprises, coupled with provision of business development services to enterprises along different value chains. A notable development is that; Agro-processing parks will be established to support the processing of primary agricultural products into value added products.

Strategy 4: Promote diversification within the agriculture sector

The 7NDP clearly indicates that focus will 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.

Strategy 5: Enhance investment in agricultural infrastructure

Investments in agricultural infrastructure will be prioritised to create a conducive environment for a vibrant agriculture sector. Key among such infrastructure will be warehousing, storage, breeding centres and irrigation, among others.

Strategy 6: Promote small-scale agriculture

Small-scale agriculture has the potential to create jobs and enhance the living conditions of rural communities with the proviso that some key actions are implemented to improve the income, rights and status of farmers . These actions include addressing risk reduction through improved farming systems, a better market environment, secure land rights and adequate provision of public goods and social protection among others.


The main  mining activity in Zambia is large-scale copper mining while the production; processing and export of other minerals has remained underdeveloped. Under the 7NDP, emphasis will be on broadening the range of minerals to cover non-traditional mining of gemstones, gold and industrial minerals as well as promotion of value addition to mining products.

PMRC observes that under the 7NDP a programme will be set up, financed through the Environmental Protection Fund and will be invested into productive jobs for environmental restoration, notably reforestation. This is a very positive move in view of the need for a green economy. Another development sighted is that: mining of iron ore will be scaled-up to support the growth of the newly declared Kafue Iron and Steel Multi-facility Economic Zone. PMRC  further observes that there is an opportunity for small-scale miners to tap into the programmes that are being lined up under the 7NDP in the mining sector.

Strategy 1: Promote exploration of gemstones and industrial minerals

Focus will be on increasing exploration, mining, processing and promoting use of industrial minerals and gemstone products, to increase contribution to the growth of other sectors. Under Mining, we observe that the Government has resolved to strengthen policy implementation and regulatory enforcement that does not stifle exploration of new mineral deposits.

Strategy 2: Promote local and foreign participation in mining value chains and industrialization

Under this strategy, efforts will be made to facilitate mining-based value addition and industrialization by supporting the development of manufacturing industries to produce inputs for other sectors, to contribute to the growth of other sectors.

Strategy 3: Promote petroleum and gas exploration

The strategy facilitates the establishment and capacity development of relevant institutions to monitor and regulate petroleum exploration. In addition, a governance framework for the sector will be established to attract investment and ensure efficient, safe and environmentally friendly petroleum exploration.

Strategy 4: Promote small-scale mining

As part of the diversification agenda within the mining sector, the Government will focus on building the productive capacity of small-scale miners involved in the exploration of gemstones and industrial minerals.


As a public policy research think tank, PMRC welcomes this development outcome, as it underscores the critical role and importance that research and development (R&D) plays in the innovation and development process of our country.  It is a fact that Research is a key element of many developmental agendas and, when well-planned and used, enables a government to formulate evidence-based policies that lead to massive economic gains over a period of time.  The 7NDP is  key to Zambia’s development agenda. R&D is expected to play a critical role in the diversification process and to explore opportunities that will enhance the productive capacities of the various sectors of the economy. During the Plan period, R&D will be given priority. PMRC submits that in order to achieve the objectives set out in the 7NDP, there is need for the Government together with stakeholders to invest in research and development. It is through research that evidence to inform cost-effective programming and policy changes can be generated to allow positive contributions to economic diversification and creation of decent jobs. PMRC positions itself as a medium through which various research will be conducted; that compliments the strategies and programmes set out in the 7NDP.

Selected strategies

Strategy 1: Enhance research and development, and innovation capacity

The strategy will focus on developing a high quality research base with a critical mass of highly qualified human resource, modern adequately equipped infrastructure and a technology development structure that will popularise science and technology for promoting and creating a national culture of research and innovation. This will increase national research activities in all sectors of the economy to enhance value addition for increased productivity.

Strategy 2: Enhancing policy formulation and analysis

To drive the economic diversification agenda, the Government will focus on strengthening policy-making processes through investing in research and analysis. Therefore, capacities will be strengthened to produce evidence-based analytical studies that will adequately inform policy development and subsequent paradigm shift.

The 3rd edition of the 7NDP-OPED series will focus on development outcomes in Tourism, Energy, Transport and Infrastructure.