The paper shows that pre-colonial ecologies of agricultural systems in some parts of rural Zambia were sustainable and resilient to prevailing environmental conditions, and were therefore able to ensure relative food security, under communal land tenure. However, colonial policies of land alienation and labour migration impacted negatively on food production systems of some ethnic groups like the citemene system of the Bemba and the flood plain cultivation system of the Lozi, making them extremely vulnerable due to the absence of large numbers of males. Paradoxically, the Tonga people in Southern Zambia responded positively to the introduction of modern methods of cultivation, exhibiting resilience
by adapting and adopting the cultivation of hybrid maize and the ox-drawn plough. They also began to transform their land tenure system from being communal to become increasingly individualised.
At independence in 1964, the UNIP government intervened strongly in promoting rural development (1964-1990), by subsidising maize production and by implementing protectionist policies to maintain communal tenure. However, food security could not be guaranteed, and the policies led to over dependence of small-scale farmers on government and on maize at the expense of other food crops.
The introduction of neo-liberal policies (from 1991 to 2001) by the MMD government coupled with adverse weather conditions, made food production systems rather vulnerable to both policy and environmental shocks. However, efforts are being made (from 2001- to date) with the assistance of cooperating partners or the international community, the United Nations System and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to continue with land tenure empowerment policies to ensure secure land tenure for both men and women, and make targeted interventions with partial subsidies to rebuild the resilience of rural society, so as to promote national and household food security.
Authors and Publishers
Gear M. Kajoba
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