Agriculture expert Rhoda Mofya-Mukuka (Research Fellow at IAPRI) recently gave an interview to the Africa Research Institute where she discusses some of the reasons why agricultural subsidies in Zambia have not had the desired impact with regard to poverty reduction, productivity of smallholder farmers and commercialisation of the agricultural sector. Here is the answer to the hotly debated question - "Have the subsidies had the intended impact on poverty in rural areas?" :
We do not have the empirical data to answer this question with certainty. However, our studies at IAPRI have observed that poverty remains persistent in rural areas. About 80% of rural households live in poverty – unchanged since the early 2000s. The maize market is highly concentrated, with about 2-5% of small- to medium-scale farmers accounting for 50% of marketed surplus. Two-thirds of smallholders do not produce a surplus – and many them are net consumers. FISP targets “viable” farmers, leaving out those that cultivate less than one hectare. Therefore, better-off farmers have been the principal beneficiaries of agricultural subsidies. The poorest farmers have been neglected; hence the slight impact on poverty reduction.
You can read the rest of the fascinating interview via Africa Research Institute.
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Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
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