Underutilized Species - Policies and Strategies from Zambia


In order to increase the contribution of potentially valuable and presently underutilized plant species to improve the livelihoods, food security, nutrition/health and household income status of the poor majority in Zambia, and to enhance the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR), it is necessary to have policy and legislation that is supportive to the utilization of such underutilized plant species.

To contribute to this end, this study is commissioned by the Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species (GFU) and carried out by the Biodiversity Community Network (BCN) in cooperation with the National Plant Genetic Resources Center (NPGRC) with technical support from SADC Plant Genetic Resources Center (SPGRC). Its aim is to identify the national and institutional policies and legislative frameworks in Zambia that have a direct or indirect impact on the utilization of currently underutilized plant species. Based on these findings, recommendations will be developed to assist government and
institutional planners in strengthening and formulating policies that support the utilization of underutilized plants in Zambia.

The project study has basically involved literature search and the review of documents from government institutions, the private sector and NGOs, as well as follow-up consultations by the Project Team with various institutions and individuals (see Annex A: Discussion themes). Preliminary research on a few underutilized species has been done by the Vegetable Research Programme (VRP) of the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), the University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Agriculture, on Cowpea and Amaranthus and the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) and NPGRC, on ground orchids (Disa., Habenaria. and Satyrium species.)

An analysis was undertaken of the relevant policies under the agriculture, health and education sectors as they relate to underutilized plant species. None of these sectorial policies make specific reference to underutilized plant species. Only in some policies are underutilized plants mentioned, either indirectly or in general.

The agricultural policy of 2004 acknowledges the importance of underutilized plants through the food security objective, which states the need to promote production of diversified crop species including cereals, legumes, roots and tubers. The other objective stresses the need to increase and diversify agricultural exports, including those derived from minor crops such as essential oils, species and vegetables. In terms of enhancing crop production the agriculture policy provides diversification and maintenance of agrobiodiversity as some of the key strategies. This includes the need to develop
measures to conserve and utilize locally-available agrobiodiversity. Both the R&D and Extension institutions under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACo) have policy objectives that promote crop diversification.

The National Nutrition Policy, developed in 2006 under the Ministry of Health, recognizes the fact that food entitlement for most rural households is linked to agriculture. The policy states that production of minor staple food crops has been fluctuating and at a low level, leading to increased vulnerability to food insecurity, especially among the rural population. Policy measures indicated include the need to promote increased food diversification, production and consumption, and the utilization of all available food resources in order to improve nutrition status. Although there is no specific mention of
underutilized plants it is clear that the policy does so in its objectives, which aim at addressing the current nutritional problems or issues.

The National Education Policy of 1996 includes the aspect of environmental health for the pupils and for the communities/households from which they come. The policy recognizes that good pupil, community and societal health are dependent on a health environment. In addressing issues related to this the Ministry of Education will strive to cooperate with the line Ministries of Environment, Community Development, Agriculture and others in the improvement of nutritional status and other health-related matters. The policy does not include anything on school feeding programmes.

Arthur Nkonde (ed)

Biodiversity Community Network (BCN), Zambia and The Genetic Resources Policy Initiative (GRPI)


Policy analysis

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Underutilized Species - Policies and Strategies from Zambia

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