Hivos International

Agriculture, food systems, diets and nutrition in Zambia

Zambian agricultural production is focused on one staple cereal: maize. Maize makes up the major part of the national diet, while nutrient-rich foods such as legumes, animal-source foods, fruit and vegetables are eaten in small quantities, particularly amongst the poorest families.Many Zambians live with food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of poor diets: seasonal hunger affects countless families; a significant proportion of children suffer from stunted growth; and overweight and attendant diseases are increasing in adults.

National nutrition and agricultural policy in Zambia recognises the need to increase and diversify the production of nutritious foods to tackle hunger and improve diets. However, in practice, most government agricultural funding is still spent promoting maize production, despite repeated findings that this does not reduce food insecurity in the most vulnerable farming households.

This policy brief describes how diversification of agriculture and food systems in Zambia can contribute to improving Zambian food and nutrition security, while also building more resilient food systems. It clearly outlines policy recommendations on how the food and agriculture sector can better serve the country’s population through the development of sustainable diets for all.

Related Publications

The food system is transitioning. New initiatives, start-ups and networks of changemakers are emerging at the grassroots level, harbouring ideas and massive potential to break through. Still, we struggle with enormous challenges: depletion of...

The Hivos Green Entrepreneurship programme has engaged in various pilot biofuel projects in the recent past, mostly involving the Jatropha plant. These aimed to provide additional cash income for small-scale farmers who grow the...

Jatropha is not a wonder crop. In the last couple of years, producers and Jatropha‐based projects around the world have all come to this conclusion. The high expectations raised at the height of the Jatropha hype have had to be scaled down over the last four years or so‐‐roughly the period over which the six projects evaluated here have been operational. While some of its properties (see Chapter 1) enable Jatropha to survive on marginal and degraded land without irrigation or other inputs, the returns are too low under these conditions to be viable in terms of labour input and volumes required for PPO production. 

India open source seed systems

16 June 2012, Pontifica Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. At a session of the IIED Fair Ideas Conference, four speakers explain how in their regions, agrobiodiversity promotes resilience. Hivos and Oxfam Novib organised this...

Ideas seem to happen to us. Like the flashing light bulb in a cartoon. The intention behind this paper is to explore how new ideas that exist outside the mainstream discussions about development can...

Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), Hivos and IIED convened the Change Lab in 2015. The process in the first year culminated in the country’s first People’s Summit on Food, the outcomes of which...