Independent Research Paper on the Impact of Amatheon’s Outgrower Model in Zambia Published by IDOS

After five years of research, two rounds of on-site data collection (2018 and 2021), more than 1,000 face-to-face interviews with rural households, and several discussion rounds with Amatheon Agri’s staff in Zambia and Berlin, the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) published its results in the Discussion Paper

The Effects of a Private-Sector-Driven Smallholder Support Programme on Productivity, Market Participation and Food and Nutrition Security – Evidence of a Nucleus-Outgrower Scheme from Zambia.

Amatheon Agri is pleased that the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which financially supported the publication, together with IDOS and the University of Zambia, have chosen the company’s Outgrower Programme to analyse and showcase the agro-ecological and socio-economic impacts the Programme has on participating communities. Since inception in 2012, the company has invested in the establishment of a large smallholder network outside its commercial operations and was welcoming the interest of IDOS in the Programme.

The scientific and thorough analysis and report carefully examines the various components of the Programme such as free trainings, free inputs and harvest off-take and their respective impact on small-holder crop productivity, adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, market participation, food security and overall improvement of livelihoods in the region.

Among other outcomes, the Paper overserved “that households participating in the AAZ programme are more likely to use improved seeds, apply chemical fertilisers (though for soybean production) and adopt Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices than non-participating households” (p. 42). Further, it found “an overall significant increase in market participation (commercialisation) for both the treatment and control groups over the two survey periods” (p .37) and in addition, that “land productivity (…) significantly increased over the survey periods for both the treatment and control groups, yet more so for the treatment group” (p.37). Lastly, there was “suggestive evidence of the programme’s effects on improving the likelihood of women meeting their micronutrient adequacy in beneficiary households” (p. 45).

“Knowing the exceptional effort Amatheon Agri Zambia consistently undertakes to establish relationships with communities, smallholder farmers and local leaders, the challenges the company has faced and overcome during the past years and its commitment to supporting sustainable resource management, I am contented that this research paper indirectly pays a tribute to our Outgrower Programme”, says Amatheon’s Sustainability Manager Laura Schenck. “Obviously, there is always room for improvement, and we appreciate the critical but constructive view of this study which also mirrors our learnings and experiences.”

The company values the study’s in-depth look not only at its Outgrower Programme, but at the overall context of the company’s long-term investment into the agricultural value chain in Zambia – including the Programmes’ dependency on local policies, institutions and political commitment.