Zambia - Country Commercial Guide
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While 80 percent of its grain production comes from low yield small-hold farmers, due to its nutrient-rich soil and abundant groundwater, Zambia consistently produces surplus grain.  Zambian farmers’ low yields are largely due to limited access to quality inputs, mechanization, and financing; lack of awareness of improved farming practices; inadequate post-harvest storage; and government interventions that have undermined the development of predictable or commercially sustainable commodities, export, and agro-inputs markets.  As Zambia largely depends on rain-fed agriculture, with limited pesticide use, yields are highly vulnerable to increasingly frequent climate change-induced weather extremes, including floods and drought, and pest infestations.  Zambia cultivates less than 14 percent of its 40 million arable hectares (medium-to high-potential for agriculture production), only 5.7 percent of which is irrigated.  Zambia’s primary crop is maize, and it is projected to produce an estimated 3.3 million metric tons in marketing year (MY) 2023/2024.  Zambia exported 1.1 million metric tons in MY 2022/2023.  Zambia’s second largest crop is soybean, having produced about 475,000 metric tons in MY 2022/2023 – followed by nominal volumes of sorghum, millet, cassava, sugar, coffee, groundnuts, rice, cotton, and other horticultural produce.  The Zambian government has long intended to develop “farm blocks,” with the aim of attracting foreign investment to develop large-scale commercial grain production on these properties.  However, the farm blocks have attracted little investment interest due to their proposed quasi-government business model and politically influenced locations.  Additionally, government interventions in the agriculture sector, including market distorting subsidies, export bans, and unpredictable changes to agricultural trade policy have undermined private investment in the sector, particularly regarding maize and soybean production.  Zambia allows the importation of genetically modified (GM) food products, but GM crop production remains prohibited.

In 2022, total U.S. agricultural exports to Zambia were less than $1 million, with dairy products (worth $300,000) being the largest single category. 

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

The Zambian government has introduced significant tax incentives to promote cotton production and processing.  Given Zambia’s favorable conditions for agricultural production, there are significant opportunities to produce cash crops and non-staple crops, as well as livestock production, aquaculture, fruits, and horticulture.


Zambia has ample water resources but has invested little in developing irrigation systems or mechanized production.  There are significant opportunities to develop irrigation systems, commercial farming, agro-inputs and equipment markets, agro-processing, and commodity trading.  Zambia is an established regional exporter of agricultural products and its eight neighboring countries combine to create a market of over 250 million people.

Key government and regulatory agencies:

Ministry of Agriculture

Mulungushi House, Independence Avenue

P. O. Box 50197

Lusaka, Zambia

Tel: +260 211 251 719


Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries

Mulungushi House, Independence Avenue

P. O. Box 35301

Lusaka, Zambia

Tel: +260 211 224 648


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