Zambia climate-smart agriculture investment plan: Analyses to support the climate-smart development of Zambia’s agriculture sector

• Most climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices have positive welfare effects on Zambian households in the long-term; in the short-term benefits seem uncertain and may be hindered by high upfront and labour cost. Tailoring CSA to site-specific, agroecological conditions is critical. 

• Projections until 2050 show that Zambia’s agriculture sector could achieve or surpass sectoral development goals such as increasing crop and livestock production, food availability, and net trade. CSA practices can further increase these positive effects, reduce Zambia’s trade deficit in certain commodities, and, in addition, contribute to climate mitigation as a public good. 

• Climate change projections until 2050 show that the yield of key crops could decrease by -25 per cent, depending on the agroecological zone. While CSA can increase crop yields up to 23 per cent, these productivity increases are insufficient to avoid further expansion of agricultural land into forest land. Trends in deforestation put Zambia at risk of failing to achieve its climate commitments. A carbon tax on emissions from land use change could be an effective measure to halt deforestation for agriculture. 

• Among the range of CSA practices, crop diversification into legumes, commercial horticulture, agroforestry, and strategies of reducing post-harvest losses seem most promising in achieving welfare and sectoral development goals. However, adoption of CSA seems constrained by inadequate access to finance, input and output markets, and capacity building. 

• Business partnerships with rural communities, farmer field schools, and participatory integrated landscape management approaches seem promising and profitable mechanisms to support the development of a productive, resilient, and low-emission agriculture sector. The estimated annual investment requirements to roll out CSA to 50 per cent of farmers is less than current funding for the agriculture sector, indicating that implementation quality and effectiveness are critical. 

• The positive private benefits, as well as public good benefits of CSA, provide a strong rationale to leverage public support through support agricultural research, testing and dissemination of CSA across agroecological zones; improve access to inputs and agricultural finance; introduce policy measures for increased agribusiness participation; promote cross-ministerial collaboration to promote landscape approaches; continue policy reforms to support agricultural diversification and adoption of short-duration varieties; support the development of market infrastructure such as rural storage facilities.

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