Zambia lacks data on forestry sub-sector – Chiteme

National Development and Planning Minister Alexander Chiteme says there are still inherent weaknesses in the agricultural statistical information system in Zambia.

And Chiteme has disclosed that Zambia still lacks contemporary data on the country’s forestry sub-sector.

Meanwhile, the African Development Bank (AfDB) says it places agriculture as one of its key priorities areas in meeting the challenge of inclusive African development in the country.

Delivering a speech on behalf of Chiteme at the dissemination meeting of the Zambia Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Rural Statistics Dissemination in Lusaka, Wednesday, Permanent Secretary Chola Chabala explained that despite the important role agriculture played in Zambia’s rural economy, there are still inherent weaknesses in the agricultural statistical information systems being given out.

“Agriculture is the back bone of Zambia’s rural economy and this sector contributes on average at least 10 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which absorbs about 67 per cent of the labour force and supports livelihoods of more than 70 per cent of the population. Therefore, the strategic role of agriculture and rural sector to the national economy cannot be underplayed. I should admit that there have been weaknesses in the agricultural statistical information system despite the important role agriculture plays in the rural economy of this nation,” Chiteme noted.

He said the Strategic Plan for agriculture and rural statistics for Zambia would provide the country with an opportunity to improve statistics for food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development.

And Chiteme said that although basic statistics on crops, livestock and fisheries production are available, contemporary statistics on the forestry subsector remained a major challenge in Zambia.

“Forestry statistics are especially important given the impact of climate change on our (African) continent and the role that forestry development can play in mitigating this. Let me also state here that, although basic statistics on crops, livestock and fisheries production are available, availability of statistics on forestry is a major challenge in our country,” Chiteme said.

Meanwhile, AfDB senior private investment officer Mdaniso Sakala said the bank placed agriculture as one of its key priorities areas in meeting the challenge of inclusive African development in the country.

“Agriculture plays a central and strategic role in the development of the country as it is the key to economic growth, increased income, improved living standards, eradication of poverty and improved food and nutrition security. As the bank, we have formulated the Feed Africa Strategy in addressing issues of agriculture as one of its key priorities areas in meeting the challenge of inclusive African development in the country. These include: Light Up and Power Africa; Industrialized Africa, Integrating Africa and Improving the quality of life of the people of Africa,” said Sakala.

The Strategic Plan launch for agriculture and rural statistics is aimed at improving the quality and availability of agricultural statistics in the country.

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