The International Fund for Agricultural Development says Zambia is one of the countries that can stimulate agribusiness if huge financial injection is made into the sector.

IFAD said with greater investment in smallholder agriculture, many countries have the potential to increase food production and reduce poverty.

The Fund believes the large expanses of arable land and an abundance of water in the northern part of the country is all the ingredients Zambia to be the breadbasket of Africa.

“Zambian smallholder agriculture is facing a lot of challenges,” says Martin Liywalii, the Programme Manager of the IFAD-supported Smallholder Productivity Promotion Programme (S3P), in Zambia.

“Low yields and production levels, and a lack of access to quality seeds are some of the biggest issues,” Liywalii added, indicating that the challenges combined with changing weather patterns are contributing to rural poverty and hunger.

Although agriculture accounts for about 20 per cent of Zambia’s GDP, agricultural productivity in the country is low by global standards and more than 60 per cent of Zambians live below the poverty line.

Droughts and floods have increased in frequency and intensity over the last two decades and have had an adverse impact on food and water security, energy generation and livelihoods.

However, bringing farming into the 21st century and dealing with rural poverty remain massive hurdles.

According to Robert Delve, IFAD’s Senior Technical Specialist in agronomy, African countries like Zambia have an immense potential for improving agricultural outputs and reducing rural poverty.

Africa has a quarter of the world’s arable land but only produces 10% of the world’s agricultural output.

Statistics indicate that in Africa, there are an estimated 33 million smallholder farms, and the farmers that live on them contribute up to 70 per cent of the food supply.