A recent joint study by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) found that Zambians enjoy a wide variety of foods foraged from the nation’s forests. The foods range from wild mushrooms, fruits, tubers, and nuts to insects, wild meats, fish, and aquatic and green leafy plants. FAO Forestry Officer and project co-lead Ashley Steel says the study’s results show the “key role” forests play in “food and nutrition security,” as well as biodiversity and other ecosystem services.
Foraging accounts for 250,000 cubic meters of produce consumed by Zambians per annum.
The authors were able to estimate that rural households in Zambia collect at least 12 million large (20 liter) buckets of wild forest foods per year.
According to FAO Forestry Officer Ashley Steel, “On a global scale, if all 1.6 billion people who live near forests were to collect similar quantities of wild forest foods, that would mean 2.65 billion buckets of food would be collected in forests each year.”
The wild fruits foraged from Zambia’s forests each year are enough to meet 25% of international recommendations for average annual fruit consumption in Zambia.
Zambia has one of the highest percentages of forest cover in the world—about 60% of Zambia’s land area.