Assessing land suitability for rainfed paddy rice production in Zambia


Rice is one of the staple food crops and is a profitable smallholder cash crop in Zambia. It has the potential to contribute significantly to increased incomes and employment among rural producers. However, rice is the only staple crop in the country for which domestic production does not meet or exceed domestic demand. Low productivity is one of the factors that contribute to this. One necessary step towards addressing this problem is the identification of land with greatest potential for rice production, as well as the identification of land-based limitations which might be overcome by improved management. The aim of this study was to develop a land suitability index for rainfed paddy rice production reflecting expert opinion and published studies based on climatic, topographic and soil properties. Land suitability was evaluated using a method which accounts for important multiple factors, and which considers their joint effect in terms of a hierarchical model of constraints. The suitability classes were ranked according to the FAO land suitability classification as: Highly Suitable (S1), Moderately Suitable (S2), Marginally Suitable (S3), Currently Not Suitable (N2), and Permanently Not Suitable (N1). Results showed that there is limited potential for rainfed paddy rice production in Zambia with textless20 of the land classified as either highly or moderately suitable. Therefore, the potential of irrigated and upland rice production in Zambia needs to be assessed as this would help expand the potential production area of rice.

Geoderma Regional, 27, pp. e00438