Wild foods found to be widely collected across all agro-ecological zones of Zambia

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Study shows high volumes of wild food collection across rural households

New research in Zambia highlights the high volumes collected of a wide range of wild foods – from insects to freshwater fish to leafy greens and tubers – in rural areas across all of the country’s agroecological zones. “Across Zambia, many types of wild food were collected by every rural household surveyed, except one, and in substantial amounts,” said Ashley Steel, a forest officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and lead author of the paper, which was published this month in People and Nature.

The study provided methods to quantify the amounts collected of these wild foods, and presents data to show how much wild food rural Zambians are collecting. It highlighted the need to acknowledge this resource in forest management policies to ensure that these foods remain available, particularly in the face of challenges such as climate change and deforestation. The work suggested that accurate and local data can help policy makers design effective forest management policies and ensure community access to forests.

“Wild food collection from forests, even degraded forests, appears to be ubiquitous in rural areas,” said Steel. “Forest loss and degradation are, therefore, national concerns that have food security and social implications in addition to environmental impacts.”

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