SMALLHOLDER horticulture is much more profitable than maize and can contribute significantly to the growth of the economy, says the 2015 Zambia Horticulture report.

It says despite lack of public and limited private sector support and investment, the smallholder horticulture contributed significantly to the Zambian economy.

“Smallholder horticulture is much more profitable compared to maize growing, especially where the market system can be navigated,” it says

The analysis shows the superior gross margins of all horticultural crops compared to maize with the highest being cabbage at 219 times than that of maize, followed by tomato at 179 times and onion at 138 times.

“The gross margin percentage returns on total variable cost of these respective horticultural crops was 263,158 and 141 percentage points respectively more than that of maize,” reads the report.

At the national level, the report shows that the maize sector during the 2010/11 production and 2011/12 marketing season

involved 1.3 million smallholder households or 6.5 million people producing K2.9 million worth of produce of which K1.6 million 56 percent was sold.

During the same period, the horticultural sector involved 300,000 smallholder households or 1.5 million people producing K0.8 million of which K0.6 million or 74 percent was sold.

According to the report, on a per capita basis, the contribution of smallholder horticulture to the rural economy was much superior to that of maize.

The report shows that smallholder horticultural market participation had much more household income impact than that of maize.

There were significant net household income increases as a result of smallholder participation in horticultural and maize markets, but the impacts were much higher for the participation in horticultural than the maize markets.

“Participation in horticultural markets results in net income increase of 157 percent compared to 22 percent for maize markets at the national level,” reads the report.

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