Regional evidence of smallholder-based growth in Zambia's livestock sector

Sarah Alobo Loison, Ellen Hillbom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growth in the smallholder-based livestock sector, characterized by increasing number of animals, commercialization and processing of animal products have historically provided a decisive contribution to raising the incomes of farm households, and to the broader process of agricultural transformation. In this paper, we use a mixed methods approach to examine the processes of extensive and intensive supply-side growth in the livestock sector in Zambia, specifically in Mazabuka and Mkushi regions. The quantitative data is a three-year panel of 277 smallholders collected between 2002 and 2013. This is complimented with qualitative data from interviews conducted with farmers, key informants and focus groups in 2012 and 2016. We ask: To what extent can we capture evidence of smallholder-based supply-side growth in the livestock sector in our Zambia data? Are growth processes corresponding with extensive (increasing numbers of animals) or intensive (investments for improving productivity) trajectories? What characterizes smallholders taking part in the growth process? Our results show evidence of growth in the livestock sector. While it is overall based on extensification, there are initial stages of intensification in the south. The smallholders driving the process are mainly emergent farmers with land holdings between 2 and 20 hectares. The process seems to be male-dominated, with male farm managers benefitting to a higher degree than their female counterparts, irrespective of the region. Based on our findings, we provide policy recommendations relevant specifically for Zambia's agricultural development and generally for the role of the livestock sector in the agricultural growth process in the Global South generally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100229
JournalWorld Development Perspectives
Early online date2020 Jul 9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic Geography


  • Agricultural growth
  • Livestock sector
  • Panel data
  • Smallholders
  • Zambia


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