Short-Term Success versus Long-Term Failure: A Simulation-Based Approach for Understanding the Potential of Zambia’s Fertilizer Subsidy Program in Enhancing Maize Availability
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In Sub-Saharan Africa, food-related policies such as fertilizer subsidy programs (FSPs) have undergone a revival and triggered a controversy about their impact. In this article I applied a simulation-based approach to examine the FSPs’ short- and long-term potential for increasing maize availability in Zambia. The study revealed that FSPs are an effective policy measure to enhance maize availability in the short-term. However, in the long-term, the food system becomes dependent on the government’s annual expenses. The dependency occurs because FSPs fail to build up adequate stock levels of soil organic matter (SOM), which is an important source of resilience and productivity, and thus represents a long-term leverage point in Zambia’s maize production system. For this reason, alternative policies that combine increasing productivity and building up SOM stock levels were analyzed. They were found to be a viable means for enhancing long-term maize availability. The study concludes that gradually reducing investments in FSPs while simultaneously promoting farming practices that build up SOM stock levels is a promising strategy to enhance maize availability sustainably.
CitationSustainability 2016, 8(10):1036
SubjectZambiamaizefood production systemfertilizer subsidy programsoil organic matterfood availabilitypolicy analysissimulation
Copyright 2016 The Author(s)