chapter  4
State, Poverty and Agriculture in Zambia: The Impact of State Policies after Democratization
Pages 22

In Zambia, agriculture accounted for some 21 per cent of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009, and the sector still absorbs over two-thirds of its labour force.1 The country has undergone stable growth since the beginning of the 2000s (more than 6 per cent per year since 2004) and nationally poverty has declined, but more than 70 per cent of rural people live in poverty.2 Agriculture therefore remains as one of the main priorities for poverty alleviation (UNDP 2013). Big potential lies in the country’s rural assets: out of its landmass of approximately 752,000 square kilometres, 56 per cent is arable land (42 million hectares). In addition, about 35 per cent of fresh water resources in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region are in Zambia which, if profitably utilized, could make agriculture a mainstay of the economy. Despite such assets, poor policies dating back to government choices after independence have left the agricultural sector as a secondary issue that democratization after 1991 has barely reversed.