Testing the guidelines on quick assessment of grain stocks in Zambia

The Global Strategy, in collaboration with Zambia’s  Central Statistical Office (CSO) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), carried out field tests of the guidelines on the quick assessment of grain stocks through value chains,  which were developed by the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) project.

The rapid assessment of stocks is given particular attention in light of the increasing efforts of national governments and international agencies to reduce the costs of collecting primary data on grain stocks. Among the key factors that contribute to raising the profile of rapid assessment of grain stocks through value chains are: a wide information base, availability and accessibility of some qualitative and quantitative stock data as well as other related concerns.

The primary objective of the guidelines is to gather information from agricultural value chain entities such as commercial producers, farmers, traders and processors in a timely and cost-effective manner. This is necessary to determine the extent of private stock holdings at critical times and includes the direct participation of supply-chain participants as well as private and public sector support service providers. The approach combines secondary information into the validation process for better informing decision-making and policy analysis, thus satisfying the need for better stock information on crops and commodities.

During the field-testing process, the Global Office organized a joint mission with experts of the CSO and the MoA in Zambia, focusing on two major staple grains in the country: Maize and Sorghum.  The objective of the mission was to validate the procedures described in the guidelines and discuss the approach with the key stakeholders involved in grain stock data in Zambia. The guidelines in fact, advocate for a consensus-building approach that involves experts in the field, which have a better understanding of the country’s context. Almost all stakeholders appreciated the proposed approach and the importance of receiving the carry-over stocks ahead of time.

Based on these field tests, the CSO  is planning to integrate the quick grain stock estimation methodology described in the guidelines into the existing statistical system. According to the Director General of the CSO, generating early grain stock estimates is a requirement of data users in Zambia and the methodology described in the guidelines would be included into the national statistical system to provide earlier stock estimates.