Access to resources and food production among small-scale farm households in southern Zambia
Given the critical role of agriculture in the development of Zambia's economy, this study examined factors that account for differences in the level of access to production resources and their effect on food production among small-scale farmers. The data for this study were collected from a field survey of 150 farm households in Choma District, Southern Province, Zambia. Interviews with key informants also supplemented the survey information. The study findings showed that farm size, a proxy for wealth or social status, accounted for significant differences in the level of ownership and access to production resources. The study data show clear differences between medium to large-sized farms and small-sized farms in almost all aspects of resource endowment and production that were examined. Medium and large-sized farms in the sample owned more livestock and implements; cultivated larger crop areas; sold more crops and livestock and supported larger family members than small-sized farms. Medium and large-sized farms also had more access to extension information and credit as compared to small-sized farms. In addition to this, the household head's training in agriculture and cattle ownership were significantly associated with greater access to credit and extension information. These differences in resource endowment are translated into differences in the level of food production. That is, the farms with better access to production services like credit and extension, more human and technological capital as manifested in number of wives in the household, household heads' training in agriculture and the availability of sufficient draught cattle produced more maize than their counterparts. However, farm size was not significantly related or associated with greater agricultural productivity among the households. Based on these and other findings, recommendations aimed at providing solutions to some of the constraints or problems affecting Zambia's small-scale farmers are suggested.