Leveraging Zambia’s Agro-industry Potential in Rural Areas through Enhanced Soya Bean Production and Processing

A best performing soya beans farmer in her field (left) and receiving a bicycle award (right). Photo by IFAD Zambia


The project aims to contribute to poverty reduction and food security in rural Zambia. It helps the rural farmers to increase their productivity, capacity and income through diversification of the existing cropping system with soya bean cultivation and improvement of the value-chain system. In this project, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), together with the Ministry of Agriculture of Zambia, provides necessary technical support and supervison to Muchinga Agricultural Development Company (MADECO), a start-up, to establish self-sustaining improved soya bean production practices and an improved soya bean value-chain system by supporting farmers to produce soya beans and establishing a soya bean processing plant.

Lessons learned


The project faced a challenge in motivating farmers to cultivate soya beans and adopt improved techniques. Therefore, in the 2019/2020 farming season, the “lead farmer” concept was introduced to encourage and motivate farmers in soya bean production. Lead farmers assist with the project field activities on a voluntary basis with some incentives. The introduction of the “lead farmer” concept has been successful in motivating farmers to cultivate soya beans applying improved agricultural techniques.

Initially, the project supported farmers facing a low level of soya bean production on their land. Following the needs analysis, the project offered multiple supports to the farmers, including increased crop monitoring together with government officials, a soil testing facility to maintain the right pH level, a timely supply of agricultural inputs, and the engagement of traditional leaders in community sensitization. That led to an increase in soya bean production. 

A weekly radio programme on a local radio station greatly improved information-sharing with the farmers on the MADECO scheme regarding aspects such as the best agronomic practices leading to better soya bean yields and soya bean marketing.

Way forward


The soya bean processing plant, once fully operational, will provide a ready market for soya bean producers and will provide incentives to the farmers to continue producing the crop in the district. The project-supported farm will establish a centre of excellence where farmers will continue to be trained in good agronomy practices. 

The project implementing partner MADECO will collaborate with the Government and potential partners to continue providing support to the farmers to motivate and facilitate soya bean production.

Results Highlight


  • 858 farmers (40% female) were supported for soya bean farming in the 2020/2021 season compared to 484 framers in 2019/2020. The farmers received training, technical support, seeds and agricultural inputs.
  • Soya bean production increased significantly, reaching up to 3 tons per hectare in the project-supported areas compared with average production of 1 ton per hectare. In 2019/2020 seasons, project-supported farmers produced and sold 124 metric tons of soya bean, contributing to an increase in their incomes. 
  • 91% of farmers participating have accessed the market with project facilitation, thereby contributing to increasing their household incomes and improved livelihood.
  • 16 soya bean demonstration plots were established (1 plot per targeted village) following training of lead farmers.
  • 100 hectares of land were cleared and prepared to establish a soya bean cultivation demonstration farm, and soya bean plantation was completed on 50 hectares of the cleared land.
  • 1,369 farmers have benefited from training in improved soya bean production and productivity practices. In addition, 470 farmers (39% females) have benefited from specialists’ field-monitoring activities to identify and address in a timely manner any issue in the soya bean production. 

Key features


Rural farmers


Ministry of Agriculture, Smallholder Productivity Promotion Programme, Muchinga Agricultural Development Company (MADECO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Zambia




May 2018–July 2021

Mostly contributing to

“With the income I got from soya bean sales, I have reserved school fees for my grade-10 son when schools open, paid Cooperative fees to access maize inputs for 2020/2021 farming season and bought a very nice/thick blanket for myself, this being the cold season.”
Ms. Lukuta Chikwanda, a widowed farmer from Nyungwe village