Volume 69 (2017) Issue 1 Pages 9-25
This paper examines the strategies of small-scale farmers that enable them cope with fluctuations in food production according to changes in national agricultural policy in north-western Zambia. Maize is the most important staple food in Zambia. The maize cultivation started when the colonial government set up food supply systems for urban workers. In Zambia, small-scale farmers earn a cash income through selling maize and its cultivation relies on subsidised fertiliser provided by the government. Changes in the national agricultural policy are affected by the political situation. Maize yields are fluctuated by delivery delays of the fertilisers. In north-western Zambia, the indigenous Kaonde concentrate on growing maize and sorghum, whereas the Lunda, Luvale, Chokwe, and Luchazi immigrants from other areas mostly grow cassava. The indigenous Kaonde experience hunger during the off-crop season for grains and sustain their self-sufficient lifestyle by obtaining cassava grown by the immigrants. Small-scale farmers do not depend on maize cultivation. The Kaonde are able to obtain cassava from the immigrants during the hunger period, therefore they have realised regional food security in the local community.