IMPROVED agricultural technology can contribute to an economically efficient farm sector, the Rural Agricultural Livelihoods 2015 (RALS) report has revealed.
The report was launched on Friday by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI).
It states that improved agricultural technology has the potential to contribute to an economically efficient farm sector as well as financial viability through production and productivity.
IAPRI research director, Anthony Chapoto, said that nationally a total of 25.6 percent of farmers used fertilizer in their fields, with Lusaka Province having the highest fertilizer use of 45.7 percent while Western Province was the lowest with 5.8 percent.
Mr Chapoto said the use of manure and intercropping in the country was limited with only 5.4 percent at national and 3.3 percent at households level.
He said 15 percent of households in Southern and Lusaka provinces used manure during the 2013/2014 agricultural season. In terms of intercropping, Luapula, Northern and Western provinces had the highest percentage of households using this practice at 13.9 percent, 12.3 percent and 8.7 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, the IAPRI quarterly report has cited cotton as ‘‘white gold’’ because of the potential and viability it possesses but that due to challenges such as low productivity, side selling and mistrust between farmers and ginning companies in terms of product selling, its full potential has been hampered.
The report states that while farmers respond to the risks and rewards in alternative crop areas, a policy focus on maize cloud the extent of the response.
‘’Given the scarce resources, improvement in smallholder productivity will require some reallocation of public funds away from maize and toward other crops. To maximise the efficiency of this investment, efforts should be made to leverage existing or potential private investments, including those related to private investments in out-grower programmes,’’ the report said.