Analysis of the Soya Bean Value Chain in Zambia’s Eastern Province

The Feed the Future (FtF) program being implemented in Zambia’s Eastern Province by United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) has its goal of lifting more than a quarter of a million rural people (mostly farmers) out of poverty by 2015 (USAID 2011). The attainment of this objective will be achieved, in part, through sustained investments in several key value chains in the agricultural sector, including soya bean value chain. Despite the clear benefits of soya production for smallholders, soya production remains low. In part, this may be linked to the pervasive belief among farmers that soya markets are unreliable. However, interviews with downstream market actors suggest that there is in fact significant unmet demand for soya in Zambia. The purpose of this value chain analysis is to identify the factors limiting smallholder linkages to the growing markets for soya in Zambia, and to provide concrete strategies to overcome them. The primary data used in this study stem from qualitative research conducted in Eastern Province of Zambia. The data were collected through guided interviews with key actors at each node of the soya bean value chain. In addition to qualitative research, data from different national representative surveys were used to inform our discussion. The study highlights the following challenges: First, there is limited availability of high yielding soya seed and limited incentive for private investment in smallholder soya seed multiplication. This is partly because smallholder farmers prefer open pollinated varieties (OPVs), which can be recycled for up to five years with minimal yield loss. However, supplying recyclable seed is less profitable, so corporate suppliers tend not to promote them heavily. Another challenge concerns lack of inoculum as Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) is the sole producer within Zambia. Second, yield improving input usage in soya bean production is low. Smallholder farmers rarely use inoculum in soya bean production due to a lack of knowledge about the benefits of using inoculums, coupled with problems associated with acquisition. In Zambia, ZARI is the sole producer of inoculum. Low production is also related to poor agronomic practices, such as late planting and poor disease management Third, due to low production, farmers tend to have small quantities to sell and the earliest opportunity farmers have to turn their crop into cash is when the prices are the lowest of the marketing season during harvest time. Limited quantities of production do not justify transporting soya to potentially more remunerative markets in the district capital where buyers are willing to pay a premium on bulk purchases. Lastly, there is a large amount of trade distrust between farmers and traders, and it flows in both directions. Farmers complain of rigged scales whereas traders complain that sacks are frequently loaded with sand or stones to increase their weights. Based on the highlighted challenges, we suggest the following intervention strategies to overcome them: i. The project should work with seed suppliers and agro-dealers on forecasting demand based on project interventions. In addition, there is need for more public investment in the smallholder soya seed production and multiplication. ii. Awareness campaign on the benefits of using inoculum and how to apply it in soya bean production as well as improve accessibility. iii. Improve the extension service with regard to crop management practices. vi iv. Work with farmers on local bulking for onward sale. Need to focus efforts on improving farmers’ capacity to engage with the already existing market. v. Strategies for improving farmers’ capacity include market training on negotiation, market identification, and capacity to store.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-26

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