Zambia will allow 100,000 tonnes of additional white maize exports this year bringing the total to 350,000 tonnes, Agriculture Minister Ben Kapita told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
The move comes after the country recorded surpluses in the last three agricultural seasons, Kapita said.
“We are going to export 250,000 tonnes from this year’s stock and 100,000 tonnes which should have been exported to Zimbabwe but was kept after Malawi undercut us on the price.”
Kapita said the maize was ready for export to countries with food deficits, but he did not identify the countries. In the past, the country has exported to Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kapita also said Zambia had started to prepare for the 2007/08 farming season with the distribution of subsidised fertiliser and seed to 125,000 small-scale farmers set to start soon.
The 125,000 farmers will be less than the 210,000 farmers who benefited from government support in 2006 because some farmers have become self-sustaining after receiving initial government assistance.
“The government is downsizing the number of farmers getting help because some of them have graduated from the fertiliser support programme. Most farmers are now able to buy their fertiliser from the private sector,” Kapita said.
Last week, Kapita said Zambia’s 2006/07 maize output declined 4.4 percent to 1.36 million tonnes compared with output for 2005/06 due to floods which destroyed the crop in 41 of the country’s 72 districts.
Kapita said Zambia would keep 250,000 tonnes of maize in strategic reserves compared with a surplus of 160,000 tonnes the previous year.