Crop Forecast Survey


The Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is mandated to provide the country with estimates of crop production for each agricultural season. This information is used to provide a sound-planning base for the country’s food security in a given year. In order to come up with this information, MoA through the Agriculture Statistics and Early Warning Section, in collaboration with ZamStats through the Agriculture Statistics Branch, conducts the Crop Forecasting Survey (CFS) during the months of March and April every year. The survey focuses on the current agricultural season which starts on 1st October of the current year and ends on 30th September of the following year.

Objectives of the Crop Forecasting Survey


  • To provide the Government with reliable, empirical annual estimates of crop production statistics for the agricultural season.
  • To generate the annual National Food Balance Sheet.
  • To provide public institutions, the private sector, and other stakeholders with forecasts of national, provincial, and district level indicators of crop sector performance.
  • To provide statistics on the potential available marketable surplus for the major crops grown in the country.


The CFS obtains estimates from agricultural holdings (farmers) on the area under major crops as well as expected production and sales estimates, quantity, and variety of seed, type of fertilizer used, carryover stocks, crop marketing, and labor costs, among others during the season. The production estimates that are generated are used to assess the food security situation in the country and also to develop the National Food Balance Sheet (NFBS), which is used to determine the surplus or deficit of major cereals and tubers in the country. The NFBS includes information on the country’s Strategic Grain Reserve for the Season.


Information derived from the survey is also used for generating preliminary estimates of the contribution of the agriculture sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  The information from the CFS is further used as a tool to analyze the country’s overall food availability and requirements in order to obtain an estimate of the food deficit or surplus situation. The information is vital to Government, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the private sector particularly traders, as well as Cooperating Partners (donors) and is useful for strategic planning and decision-making purposes.  Such strategic decisions may relate to local marketing and import/export issues.

The CFS covers all provinces of the country and is conducted in what ZamStats calls Enumeration Areas (EAs). A sample of EAs involving agricultural households is drawn using probability proportional to size sampling scheme. The EA is the smallest area with well-defined boundaries identified on a census map. A total sample of 680 EAs is allocated nationally to each province and district proportional to its size (in terms of households). Twenty households are randomly selected from each of the 680 EAs in the sample and interviewed in detail.


The table below shows the distribution of CFS EAs by province.


Province Number of EAs Selected
Central 62
Copperbelt 68
Eastern 106
Luapula 72
Lusaka 34
Northern 116
North-western 60
Southern 94
Western 68
Total 680


The CFS covers three categories of agricultural households namely: Small-scale farmers, Medium-scale farmers, and Large-scale farmers. The Small and Medium-scale farmers are covered on a sample basis while the Large-scale farmers are covered on a 100 percent basis. A fixed number of 20 households are canvassed in each selected EA for Small and Medium-scale farmers. The Large-scale farmers are captured in a separate sub-survey under the CFS on a 100 percent enumeration basis.

A Small-scale household is defined as a household cultivating 4.99 hectares of area under crops or less. Households cultivating between 5 and 19.99 hectares of area under crops are classified as Medium-scale households. All households cultivating 20 or more hectares of land and/or raising a specified number of poultry and/or livestock are classified as Large-Scale farmers.

The CFS collects information on the area planted for each crop, expected production and sales, seed type, tillage method used, acquisition and usage of fertilizer, etc. This information is based purely on farmer recall and estimation. The survey does not involve area measurement or direct field observation by the data collector as there are no field visits conducted. One of the reasons for relying on farmer recall and estimation is to reduce measurement bias and error by the data collector.

The area expected to be harvested is also collected but is not used in the computation of yield. Only the area planted is used in yield computation. Yield is not calculated by the farmer but by the analysts at the data analysis stage. Yield is derived from the quantity of expected production divided by the estimated area planted for each crop.