Lusaka – Zambia has temporarily banned all exports of maize and maize meal with immediate effect until it secures at least a million tonnes of grain for national food security, Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo said this week.

Zambian maize has in the past decade shored up food security in neighbouring DRC, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and the  export ban narrows options for food insecure countries in the region.

“We have temporarily banned all exports until we are food secure,” Minister Katambo toldThe Southern Times.

The country’s Food Reserve Agency is on a drive to secure one million tonnes of maize for national needs and has to date achieved 60 percent of this.

The official maize price is about US$6 per 50kg bag, but buyers from neighbouring countries offer as much as US$15.

This means sellers often prefer to export their maize, sometimes without declaring.

In addition, governments in the region have for a while relied on cheaper maize from Zambia sources via bilateral arrangements that are usually made at Head of State and Government level.

However, adverse weather in consecutive summer cropping seasons mean most countries in the region are likely to focus more on shoring up their own food security over exports.

Earlier this year, Minister Katambo projected national output of 3,3 million tonnes in the 2029/2020 summer season up from 2,4 million tonnes the previous year.

The country had a maize carry-over stock amounting to 179,247 tonnes as at May 1 this year.

“Our small and medium-scale farmers are expected to contribute up to 93 percent or 3,160,185 metric tonnes of the total maize production, while the large-scale farmers are expected to produce 227,284 metric tonnes of maize, or seven percent of the total maize production.

“If you take into account that traditionally, the Food Reserve Agency’s buying target has been 500,000 metric tonnes, the surplus this year would be more than 710,000 metric tonnes.

“However, as a ministry, this year, we have factored in a purchase target of 1,000,000 metric tonnes for the Agency in our cereals balance sheet,” the minister said.

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