FACTORS INFLUENCING CROP COMMERCIALIZATION AMONG SOYBEANS SMALLHOLDER FARMERS IN CHIPATA DISTRICT, EASTERN ZAMBIA
This study examined the socio-economic factors influencing household crop commercialization among soybeans smallholder farmers in Chipata District of Zambia. Purposive sampling was used to select four agricultural blocks. One agricultural camp was picked from each one of them based on the highest yields of the major crops. Farmer registers were used to develop a sampling frame in each camp. Then, random sampling procedure was used to select a total of 85 households. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to the sample to collect the study data. Analysis used the Tobit model and focused on the four major crops produced in the area that included maize, soybeans, groundnuts and sunflower. The output Household Commercialization Index (HCI) was used to measure the level of orientation towards market-led crop production. Results showed that all households’ crop activities were commercialized to an extent. Maize, soybeans, groundnuts and sunflower had 50, 89, 9, 7 percent commercialization indices respectively. Tobit model results revealed that ownership to livestock was very important for effective crop commercialization (p<0.01). Other factors included gender, land size, access to credit, household size, off-farm income and distance to markets which was significant at p<0.05. Although the influence was weak, membership to farmer’s organizations was also significant in explaining crop commercialization. The study recommended policies and efforts to promote better understanding of gender roles in agriculture and improved access to labour saving technologies such as simple machinery for production, harvesting and processing. Other recommendations include development of policies to reduce transaction costs to enhance access to affordable credit services for smallholder farmers. There is also need to encourage establishment of new farmer organizations and to strengthen the existing ones to ensure that they operate efficiently.