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Peasant household modelling: Farming systems evolution and sustainability in northern Zambia


  • Holden, Stein T.


Chitemene slash-and-burn cultivation continues to be a dominating cropping system in northern Zambia even after the introduction of modern technologies such as hybrid maize and fertilizer. The rationale of farming systems evolution in northern Zambia where labour markets have been absent or highly imperfect, has been analyzed by goal programming based on the theories of Chayanov (1966) and Nakajima (1986). Carrying capacity estimation is incorporated in the models and discussed in relation to the sustainability of land use systems in the area. The major changes in agricultural technologies in northern Zambia during this century has been the introduction of cassava, maize and fertilizer technologies. Cassava has had the most significant impact since the land could support much higher population densities and since the dependence on the chitemene system no longer was critical for the survival of peasants. By switching from finger-millet to cassava as the main staple the peasants could reduce their total labour requirement to meet their basic food needs by as much as 40%. The results also show that the maize-fertilizer technology has been unable to replace the chitemene system because economic incentives to continue the system exist as long as there is suitable woodland available. Nevertheless, the introduction of the maize-fertilizer technology may have resulted in reduced chitemene cultivation. The rapid expansion of maize production in northern Zambia from the late 70s to the late 80s depended critically on the government policy of equity pricing and input subsidisation. The models predicted that the removal of fertilizer subsidies would result in a dramatic reduction in maize production.

Suggested Citation

  • Holden, Stein T., 1993. "Peasant household modelling: Farming systems evolution and sustainability in northern Zambia," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 9, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaaeaj:173208

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Conway, Gordon R., 1987. "The properties of agroecosystems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 95-117.
    2. Helleiner, Gerald K., 1966. "Typology in Development Theory: The Land Surplus Economy (Nigeria)," Food Research Institute Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, issue 02.
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    Cited by:

    1. Holden, Stein, 2013. "Input subsidies and demand for improved maize: Relative prices and household heterogeneity matter!," CLTS Working Papers 6/13, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
    2. Felix Kalaba & Claire Quinn & Andrew Dougill, 2014. "Policy coherence and interplay between Zambia’s forest, energy, agricultural and climate change policies and multilateral environmental agreements," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 181-198, May.
    3. Holden, Stein, 2014. "Agricultural Household Models for Malawi:Household Heterogeneity, Market Characteristics, Agricultural Productivity, Input Subsidies, and Price Shocks. A Baseline Report," CLTS Working Papers 5/14, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
    4. Foster, Kenneth A. & Mwanaumo, Anthony, 1995. "Estimation of dynamic maize supply response in Zambia," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 12(1), April.
    5. Casey, James F. & Caviglia-Harris, Jill L., 2000. "Deforestation And Agroforestry Adoption In Tropical Forests: Can We Generalize? Some Results From Campeche, Mexico And Rondonia, Brazil," 2000 Annual Meeting, June 29-July 1, 2000, Vancouver, British Columbia 36466, Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    6. Salahodjaev, Raufhon, 2016. "Intelligence and deforestation: International data," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 20-27.
    7. Kimhi, Ayal, 2003. "Plot Size And Maize Productivity In Zambia: The Inverse Relationship Re-Examined," Discussion Papers 14980, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management.
    8. Angelsen, Arild, 1995. "Shifting cultivation and "deforestation": A study from Indonesia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 1713-1729, October.
    9. Caviglia-Harris, Jill L. & Kahn, James R. & Green, Trellis, 2003. "Demand-side policies for environmental protection and sustainable usage of renewable resources," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 119-132, April.
    10. Robert Innes & George Frisvold, 2009. "The Economics of Endangered Species," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 485-512, September.
    11. Kimhi, Ayal & Chiwele, Dennis K., 2000. "Barriers For Development In Zambian Small- And Medium-Size Farms: Evidence From Micro-Data," 2000 Annual meeting, July 30-August 2, Tampa, FL 21877, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    12. Wiemers, Alice, 2015. "A “Time of Agric”: Rethinking the “Failure” of Agricultural Programs in 1970s Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 104-117.
    13. Mulenga, Brian & Nkonde, Chewe & Ngoma, Hambulo, 2015. "Does Customary Land Tenure System Encourage Local Forestry Management in Zambia? A Focus on Wood Fuel," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 207021, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    14. Holden, Stein & Shiferaw, Bekele, 2004. "Land degradation, drought and food security in a less-favoured area in the Ethiopian highlands: a bio-economic model with market imperfections," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 31-49, January.
    15. Dorward, Andrew, 0. "Conceptualising the Effects of Seasonal Financial Market Failures and Credit Rationing in Applied Rural Household Models," Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, vol. 51.
    16. Skjeflo , Sofie Waage & Holden , Stein, 2014. "Economy-wide effects of input subsidies in Malawi: Market imperfections and household heterogeneity," CLTS Working Papers 7/14, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
    17. Barrett, Christopher B. & Brown, Douglas R., 2002. "Agriculture And Rural Development: Lessons For Christian Groups Combating Persistent Poverty," Working Papers 14738, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    18. Angelsen, Arild & Kaimowitz, David, 1999. "Rethinking the Causes of Deforestation: Lessons from Economic Models," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(1), pages 73-98, February.
    19. Maldonado, Jorge Higinio & Gonzalez-Vega, Claudio, 2004. "Linking poverty, natural resources, and financial markets: a model of land use by rural households in El Salvador," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20085, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    20. Wiggins, Steve, 2000. "Interpreting Changes from the 1970s to the 1990s in African Agriculture Through Village Studies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 631-662, April.

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