Agriculture remains an important element of the Zambia’s socio-economic, researchers at England based ReportBuyer have revealed in a report dubbed: Agri-Business in Zambia Report.

This despite the fact that the agricultural sector contributes only 5.3% to country’s GDP.

Statistics indicates that 62.5% of the economically active population is involved in agriculture and mostly small-scale farmers depend on the sector for their livelihoods and employment.

In addition, an estimated 3,000 are medium-and large-scale farmers.

ReportBuyer report indicates that the large commercial farms, although they comprise a small percentage of the total number of farms, play an important role in the sector, as they account for most of the output of sugar, tobacco, wheat, potatoes and soya beans.

Meanwhile challenges faced by the sector include a reliance on rain-fed growing because of the poor irrigation infrastructure, limited mechanisation and inadequate infrastructure to transport produce.

“Smallholder farmers find it difficult to access credit and only 3% of the estimated 1.5 million small-scale farmers have title deeds, which in many cases discourages them from adopting a long-term approach to their land.”

On the other hand, the researchers believes that agri-business sector  in Zambia could supply all of its edible oil requirements if it utilised the installed processing capacity, which amounts to more than 161,000t of refined edible oils and a crushing capacity of 400,000t of oilseeds per year.

However, competition from cheaper and in many cases illegally imported edible oils is a problem.

The detailed Agri-Business in Zambia report examines current conditions, investment in the sector and factors that influence the success of the sector including the rapidly increasing urban population and government support.