Agricultural Sector of Zambia

Limited Government Support Affects the Agricultural Sector of Zambia

Zambian government’s approach toward agriculture

To combat rural poverty, Zambia’s government has been encouraging agricultural investments in vast swathes of land. The government’s flawed regulation of commercial agriculture and its inadequate protection of the rights of vulnerable people, however, are doing more harm than good when it comes to helping people escape poverty. Families who have farmed the same land for generations are being forcibly relocated to make way for industrial farms. Some people have been left without food and shelter.

Commercial agriculture projects may have an effect on local communities and people whether they include a large-scale investment by foreign investors on tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land or a series of smaller land transactions on hundreds or thousands of hectares. Without adequate protections, they might have a devastating effect on local communities. When governments fail to adequately control big or minor land sales or the functioning of commercial farms, it has a negative impact on rural residents. Indeed, this is the case in several Zambian rural areas.

Lack of Meaningful Consultations

According to Zambian legislation, communities must be consulted prior to the implementation of initiatives that would have an influence on them. Most agricultural communities’ residents deemed these dialogues either nonexistent or ineffective because of their sporadic nature. Many commercial farmers saw these people as “squatters” who had no legal right to be there and were thus not owed any kind of compensation or due process. But they had no idea what was expected of them under Zambian law. Although one commercial farm’s history of compliance and response to resident effects was more promising than that of the others, all of them could have used more monitoring and assistance from government authorities.

Governance Failures

Zambia’s central government has been notoriously lax in monitoring and enforcing norms for commercial farms, whether it is about the mechanization of agriculture in Zambia through farm implements in Zambia, combine harvesters or tractors, or providing loans to Zambian farmers. Generally, it has not even checked the most fundamental standards have been satisfied, such as conducting environmental and social impact studies and issuing required permits and licenses. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), which are required by law in Zambia, must be performed before any project begins, and government agencies must keep track of any negative effects. Despite not having filed environmental impact studies, several commercial farmers had already cleared land and begun operations before the necessary licenses and permits were obtained. Due to a lack of funding, government authorities said they were unable to conduct extensive inspections of commercial farms.

When asked who was to blame for lax monitoring and supervision, officials from a variety of government departments always pointed fingers elsewhere. There is no accountability for government officials who violate land, environmental, agricultural, investment, and resettlement rules in Zambia.

Displacement and Suffering

Those living in rural areas have taken a major hit in recent years as a result of commercial farming. Some commercial farmers have torched or demolished houses, removed trees, and forcibly evicted locals without providing enough compensation or providing the time for people to file legal challenges to the evictions. The dozens of locals who were forced out of their homes by a single commercial farmer in 2013 have spent the last four years living in tents and makeshift homes in a forested region with limited access to water and no official sanction to grow food. They persisted in living in appalling circumstances while waiting for the authorities to relocate them.

What private companies can do?

Private companies such as Tractors Zambia can play their role of helping Zambian farmers by providing them with agricultural machinery such as Massey Ferguson tractors, New Holland tractors, combine harvesters, farm implements for sale, etc. at very reasonable prices and on easy terms. Tractors Zambia also provides a wide variety of supplementary services for the farming industry. It prioritizes its customers’ needs above anything else.

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