Government cautious on lifting Maize export ban, food security is top priority

GOVERNMENT is consulting various stakeholders on calls by commercial farmers and grain maize traders for the lifting of the ban on the export of maize.

Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Wilbur Simuusa says Zambia has vast opportunities for export markets but Government wants to ensure the country has enough maize stock before considering lifting the ban.

“I wish to take advantage at this point to confirm that I have received the request from commercial farmers and grain maize traders to allow the export of 180,000 metric tonnes of maize,” he said.

“I am engaging in wide consultation regarding this request. As you are aware, Government has put national food security as top priority and we need to be sure that there is enough stock to sustain the country before the new harvests start.”

Mr Simuusa said this during the just-ended agribusiness conference in Chisamba on Friday.
He said Zambia needs to ensure that opening maize exports does not result in increased mealie-meal prices and other grain products.

Mr Simuusa said Government is aware that the lifting of the maize ban exports will bring in much needed foreign exchange in the country.

“Some people are saying the Kwacha is depreciating but what is causing this fall? We should understand that the strength of our currency is dependent on copper but instead let’s export maize to earn the dollar,” Dr Scott said.

He said the request is being considered and a decision will be communicated soon.
At the same event, Zambia National Farmers Union president Evelyn Nguleka said the country should take advantage of the natural resources it has to increase food production for export onto the regional market.

Dr Nguleka said the farming community in Zambia is geared to take up the challenge to start producing for both the domestic and regional markets.

“Indeed, the current regional and global food challenge puts Zambia in a position where it can rise up and position the country to be a supplier of grain in the region. Endowed with natural resources both in terms of land and water, the country is renowned for the potential it has to be the breadbasket for the region,” she said.

Last week Vice President Guy Scott had urged farmers in Zambia to export more maize for the country to increase foreign exchange earnings to help the country stabilise the volatile Kwacha.

“Some people are saying the Kwacha is depreciating but what is causing this fall? We should understand that the strength of our currency is dependent on copper but instead let’s export maize to earn the dollar,” Dr Scott said.

8 Comments

  1. 1 flag China

    Now who do we believe or who has the final say, this is rather confusing now, farmers were encouraged to export more,now it’s seems less likely why did mr Scott make those statements without consultation, this veep talks too much sometimes and he has no specific ministry he seems to be all over the place

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    1. 1.1 flag Goncalves

      Guy Scott does not speak for the PF govt. I doubt that even Wilbur Simuusa does. The people who speak for the PF govt are Sata, Kaseba, Chikwanda, katema, Kambwili, kasonde plus or minus a few more.

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  2. 2 flag Zed@crossroad

    PF what kind of govt have you formed? Yes, we have been informed of you ministers being useless. But to what level of uselessness is this? One day the higher officer in the name of G Scott, he asks farmers to export the maize as a way of assisting to stabilize the kwacha, only 72hours later Simusa you say you are still consulting. Really, with this approach you expert donors, investors to have confidence in your govt? Are you sure of what you are doing in that govt or cabinet. Chances are that Sata is also getting shocked with the level of incompetence being displayed by his team. Anyways, we shall watch and see how you decampaign yourselves as the pressure mounts towards 2016.

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  3. 3 flag ex-moma

    It appears the Vice president does not know his own governments policy! How then can one explain his encouraging farmers to export maize when PF instituted a Maize export ban! These are the devastating effects of the brain drain on Zambia! The people we have left to run the show are incompetent.

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  4. 4 flag DitA

    It appears some people here just bent arguing for the sake of it. Debate pros and cons of exporting maize rather than who opened mouth the loudest. If you sharp you can tell that it’s just a matter of time before the official lift of the export ban. The economy needs it for now, stocks are going to waste in rural areas.

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    1. 4.1 flag Brain cell

      And people may starve after they realise the maize they exported was what we needed due to the failures in delivery of farming inputs. Then we will have to import maize at quadruple the cost of what we made exporting…..I mean what they made exporting it. And where is the provision to accomodate the domestic market as well as the export market. Then as things go the price of mealie meal will also double because the reserves jave gone abroad. This should have been planned minimum two seasons ago…not off the cuff. …you can’t expect a decent percentage of GDP on an unplanned and badly executed whim to truly be worth while and really “affect the economy”. This may potentially cause starvation.

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  5. 5 flag chris

    please ban export of maize and maize products ! let zambian enjoy floor price of mealiea meal!!!

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  6. 6 flag FuManchu

    With government controls on purchase price which does not match production costs farmers are better off finding markets that will pay them handsomely for their produce. After all isn’t Zambia a free market economy? Farmers fear that with the disastrous farming season that saw confusion reign in distribution of farming inputs whatever harvest they produce will be bought by government for peanuts thus the need for export.

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