Key Points • Crop diversification is a proven strategy to stabilize, diversify and enhance farm households’ income and nutrition security but Zambia’s sectoral policy focus on maize input and output subsidies through the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) and Food Reserve Agency (FRA) respectively in the past 15 years has led to a maize dominated smallholder agricultural sector; • FRA and FRA (government key policy instruments) are significantly and negatively associated with smallholder crop diversification. Government need to realign public expenditure to other agriculture key growth drivers such as feeder roads, education and extension, irrigation to promote smallholder crop diversification. • Smallholder access to land and productive assets is positively and significantly related to crop diversification. This suggests that resource poor smallholder farmers may need well-targeted assistance with farm working capital, increased land access or productivity enhancement technologies to increase crop diversification. • A robust and well-functioning agricultural extension system disseminating appropriate production and productivity enhancing messages that encourage crop diversification is also very important.