Natasha Faith Phiri


Agriculture is driven by changing technologies and the growing demand of agri-products that have influenced the market. Today traditional agriculture lays underneath a thriving modernization with an inclusion of value addition. The economic value added to agricultural produce leads to thriving economies, especially for agricultural dependent countries. Food processors receive much more monies as compared to the agricultural producers coined to the value added to the agricultural produce. Value addition assures a huge generation of income, at least two times more than the agricultural returns.

There is potential for value addition in the Zambian agricultural industry, it needs more support such as government implementation and training of the farmers and processors. There is little knowledge over value addition leading to an improper execution of it hence, yielding poor results.

What then is “Value Addition”?

Value addition is adding value to a raw material from its dormant stage to the last processed consumption stage of production making it a more valuable product. In agriculture this is simply transforming agricultural raw produce into a consumer product through processing, branding.

Examples of Value-Added Agricultural Products


As an example of adding value to an agricultural commodity, consider Tomato. Value is added to tomatoes in several ways. One way to add value is through the manufacturing of products like tomato paste, tomato source, tomato juice etc. Tomato paste production, is a main stream product of tomato that other tomato products such as soups, ketchup, are made from. The value added to tomato guarantees economic growth, Zambia has an increased production of tomatoes and sales across borders to countries like Congo DRC. Although this is so the country has little or no added value to the tomato fruit hence leading to high wastage. The market has been saturated with high supply more than demand which has to open room for value to be added in order to cut down on wastage.

What drives value addition?

Just like any other industry, the agricultural industry dances to the melody of the market and its demand, this is the main driver of value addition. Customers’ expectations evolve around quality, convenience, variety, service and health. This builds on demand, backboned by changing tastes, trends and preferences of customers hence the importance of processed quality products. Understanding the market and its demand paves way for the production of good quality food supply. The increase in demand results in high profits and availability of good quality food at affordable food prices for the locals.

The Zambian agricultural industry has a high demand for processed products with a readily available market, the need to add value to agriculture is visible. Additionally, Zambia has shown potential in its manufacturing sector with a few local companies raising to the value addition task. Local companies such as its Wild, Freshpikt, Trade Kings to mention a few have demonstrated resilience and the potential the country has. However, there is need to go beyond the current state of value addition there is need for more improvement. With continuous training, a change in the mind set of customers to buy local, also with an

Value addition adds up

Value addition is a worthwhile investment that guarantees high returns, it also provides solutions to problems such as unemployment to the locals, it widens the trade base to even export trading on a high scale. Unlike sales of raw materials Zambia mostly trades in, high sales are ensured with processed products leading to sustainable economic growth. Value adds growth to the market creating market loyalty meeting consumer needs and expectations. As agriculture grows in Zambia, value must be added to the process for assured results as a result, leading to market penetration through innovative ideas for new products on the market.

Value addition brings a whole table full of benefits to both the famer and the consumer, in Zambia the benefits are seen with some local products on the market, slowly the local products are taking center stage and are improving. Although it is so there is need to overcome the few challenges still faced. The agricultural sector in Zambia is mostly characterized by small scale farmers who struggle with addition of value to their produce. Peasant Farmers are unable to produce value goods due to lack of knowledge and empowerment for the venture. Some famers lack the necessary knowledge to add value to their produce. The necessary training is required to forester development in agriculture through implementation by the Zambian government as well as investment.

It should be remembered that value addition is one booster of any economy and its results are undoubtable. Rather than providing raw materials, a processed product guarantees high level profits. Zambia’s value addition is a progressive process, it’s slowly improving and getting better promising a rise on revenue to the economy due to its potential. With the continuous support from the government through authorities like Ministry of Agriculture, trainings, financial empowerment will lead into growth. A support by local customers will also help in encouraging the producers to meet their demand as well as opening up of international markets. The more investment and improvement in value addition the manufacturing sector will lead the country into development.



Thelma Namonje-Kapembwa


A man and woman using farming equipment [1]

Literature on agricultural production and productivity has attributed low yields experienced by smallholder farmers to low- and non-adoption of improved technologies. Low adoption of improved technologies such as the use of hybrid seed, fertilizer and herbicides is widespread among smallholder farmers however it is more severe on fields controlled or owned by women farmers. A study was conducted to shed more light on the question, why is there a gender gap in the adoption of improved technologies? The study used nationally representative household panel data and qualitative data from focus group discussions. The study used the variable gender of the decision-maker (field owner) as opposed to the gender of the household head to determine the gender differences in technology adoption and maize productivity. The study considers that adoption behaviors and decisions to adopt a particular technology among women farmers will vary between those in the male- and female-headed households.

Evidence from Zambia shows that women farmers tend to fare worse than their male counterparts regarding the adoption of improved technologies and the level of productivity on their farms. The findings from this study showed that there is a significant difference in access to agriculture extension services, credit and land between men and women farmers. Further maize productivity on plots controlled (owned) by men was higher compared to their female counterparts. These differences were due to disparities in resource endowment rather than the gender of the farm owner (farm decision-maker). While the quantitative results show that disparities in resource endowments affect the adoption rate of improved technologies, the qualitative results further revealed that adoption rates by women farmers are influenced by other factors such as the intended use of a particular crop.

In the focus group discussions, female farmers indicated that they used hybrid seed if they intend to sell the crop, but they preferred local seed varieties for home consumption.  It is believed that the volume of mealie meal (maize flour) produced from the local seed is much larger than what is obtained from the hybrid seed. They also indicated that the traditional varieties taste better and store better than hybrid seeds. In addition, local varieties were much cheaper to produce because such seed varieties required no fertilizer, unlike hybrid seeds.

Household food security is the primary objective for most female smallholder farmers in Zambia and as such, the primary concern for adopting a particular seed variety will depend on how well it stores, ease of processing and taste. Given their limited access to land and other resources, retention of traditional seed varieties is a common practice among female farmers whose production in most cases is limited to home consumption as opposed to their male counterparts.


  Malawi has shown similar findings where smallholder farmers’ strong preference for particular traits found in local maize varieties such as ease of storage, high pound-ability, high flour-grain ratio, and favourable taste has assured the continued cultivation of local maize varieties [2]. Therefore, empirical results that ignore these local dynamics may not give a complete picture of factors influencing the adoption of improved technologies among smallholder farmers.

The results also show that adoption of improved technologies is lower among women, especially those in female-headed households compared to those in male-headed households. The constraints faced by female-headed households are more acute than those encountered in male-headed households. Thus, within the male-headed households, female farmers may acquire fertilizer and other resources through their husbands more easily than women in female-headed households. The existing gender gap in access to productive resources curtails agricultural development because women in developing countries play a significant role in agriculture and food production.

[1] Daum, T., Adegbola, Y.P., Kamau, G. et al. Perceived effects of farm tractors in four African countries, highlighted by participatory impact diagrams. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 40, 47 (2020).

[2] Lunduka, R., Fisher, M. and Snapp, S. 2012. Could farmer interest in a diversity of seed attributes explain adoption plateaus for modern maize varieties in Malawi? Food Policy. 37(5), pp.504–510.