The Forestry Institute of Zambia (FIZ) has noted with concern that lack of mass recruitment in the forestry sector has led to demobilization and a brain drain, with many graduates finding placement in unrelated fields.
FIZ Secretary-General, Chaliafya Katungula, urged government to review its recruitment plans and consider sectors that have been neglected, like the forestry sector.
Katungula said this in a statement issued in Lusaka on Thursday.
He proposed that government should revise the planned recruitment of teachers from 4500 to 4000 and health workers from 3000 to 2500, to create room for employment in the forestry and natural resource management sector.
“This is in line with the government’s commitment to achieving environmentally sustainable economic growth as highlighted in the speech by the head of state in Parliament recently,” Katungula said.
He said President Hakainde Hichilema’s speech in Parliament highlighted several positive strides in economic growth, environmental sustainability, and human development but that more emphasis and investment were needed in the forestry sector to fully realize its potential.
Katungula called on Hichilema to consider the Institute’s proposal and give due attention to the vital sector.
“The environmental sustainability efforts, particularly the restoration of 20,000 hectares of degraded rangelands and 110 hectares of degraded land in mining areas, are commendable,” he said.
Katungula noted that this had resulted in an estimated six percent reduction in loss of biodiversity and that the planting of 6,722 hectares of forests in the 2022/2023 tree planting season signals a commitment to reversing deforestation.
He further said the operationalization of the Forestry Development Fund was a welcome initiative but that there was need for clear guidelines on its use and access, as well as awareness and sensitization programs for stakeholders.
“If the rumoured allocation of K12 million is accurate, this fund could facilitate significant development and participation in the sector,” Katungula said.
He added that the President’s recognition of agriculture as the bedrock of Zambia’s economic transformation and job creation agenda was significant, given the close connection between the agriculture and forestry sectors.
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