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Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 1036; doi:10.3390/su8101036

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

Department of Geography, University of Bergen, Fosswinckelsgate 6, Bergen NO-5020, Norway
Academic Editors: Iain Gordon and Adrian Muller
Received: 20 July 2016 / Revised: 14 September 2016 / Accepted: 26 September 2016 / Published: 19 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
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Abstract

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. View Full-Text
Keywords: Zambia; maize; food production system; fertilizer subsidy program; soil organic matter; food availability; policy analysis; simulation Zambia; maize; food production system; fertilizer subsidy program; soil organic matter; food availability; policy analysis; simulation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Gerber, A. 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. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1036.

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