There has been inadequate information that presents the impact of consumers’ and traders’ preferences on the production and utilization of local crop varieties. Recognizing the links among consumption, production, trade and on-farm utilization, this chapter deals with the preferences of urban consumers and traders by taking maize (Gankata) and groundnut (Kadononga) as illustrative examples. Obviously, consumers and traders’ preferences are important to the extent that farmers produce maize and groundnut not only for themselves but also for the market. The overall objective was to generate information that can support better conservation outcomes through increased production and utilization of traditional crop varieties. This is done with due consideration for those varieties with no current consumption or trading utility but of potential future insurance value to sustainable agriculture.

The study took place in urban Lusaka and used structured questionnaires to capture information from 106 and 63 groundnut consumers and traders, respectively, and 104 and 60 maize grain consumers and traders, respectively. The data are analysed using variety attribute ranking and regression analysis.

The results have revealed that before making decisions to buy maize, consumers pay more attention to quantity-related attributes (such as grain size and 94kernel density) than to quality-related attributes (such as food taste). In contrast, when consumers make decisions to buy groundnut, both quantity and quality attributes were perceived as important. This is because, unlike groundnut which is a non-staple food crop, maize is a staple food in Zambia, taking the lion’s share of the income of urban poor consumers.

The results imply that, when dealing with staple foods such as maize, breeders should focus on quantitative traits whereas both quantitative and qualitative traits should be considered for non-staple food crops. Since the relevance to consumers of local maize and groundnut varieties is linked to presence or absence of the preferred traits, genetic resources conservation policy should integrate varieties with other attributes which may not be currently valuable to consumers but of potential public utility in the future. The conservation strategies have to be linked to farmers’ and trader’s attribute preferences. That is how policy can achieve the objectives of both agro-biodiversity conservation and enhanced livelihoods.