Factors affecting cassava adoption in Southern Province of Zambia : a case study of Mazabuka District : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Science in Agri-Commerce at Massey University, New Zealand
Southern Province of Zambia is a drought prone area and the main crop that is grown
is maize which requires a high amount of rainfall. As a result maize does not do well
in the area and there are frequent food shortages. The Government and Non-
Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have been promoting cassava technology which
is drought tolerant to improve the food security in the area. However, the adoption of
cassava technologies has been low. The findings of this study will inform the
development of more effective strategies to improve food security in southern
province of Zambia and it has done this by exploring the cassava promotion
A single case study was used to investigate the factors that affect cassava adoption in
Mazabuka district. Purposive and snowball sampling methods were used to select
participants for interviews and observations. 40 farmers who included opinion leaders
and 6 key informants were interviewed. The data was analysed using qualitative data
The results of the study indicated that although a small number of farmers continue to
grow cassava, the cassava promotion programme was a flawed programme because
cassava did not meet the needs of the majority of the farmers. There was a mix of
complex and interrelated factors that affected the adoption of cassava. These included
internal and external factors to the farm and farm household and those related
specifically to the characteristics of cassava relative to the farmers’ existing crop of
maize. Cassava is a substitute crop to maize.
The result of the study indicated that the farmers’ adoption decision was based on the
fact that they wanted a crop that would not only meet their food needs but also
income. Cassava is a substitute crop and the farmers compared it with maize, an
existing crop, which provided them with both food and income. Processing facilities
and a market supported by government policy existed for maize and not for cassava.
Land tenure was the internal factor, but not as a result of the length of time the lease
was held, but because of the conditions imposed on the leasers in terms of crops they
were able to grow.
The most important factors were external factors and these included government
policy and an aspect of extension service delivery. A competitive government policy
that supported processing and marketing facilities for maize, undermined cassava, for
which there was no processing facilities and only a small local market. Lack of
training and knowledge amongst the local government agricultural extension
personnel as to how to grow and process cassava impacted also on farmers’
knowledge and hence adoption of cassava. Although the inputs for growing cassava
were provided for free, they were supplied at the wrong time and this impacted also
on farmers’ willingness to grow the crop.
The research highlights the importance of using bottom-up and not top down
approaches in food security programmes. The results suggest that it is important for
food security policy and development interventions to understand the needs of farmers
in terms of food, income and livelihoods.