The government will allow a farmers’ group and three other associations to export a total of 200,000 tonnes of white maize to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia, an industry official said on Tuesday.
The Grain Traders of Zambia (GTA), the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), Millers Association of Zambia (Maz) and the state Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will be given permits to export 50,000 tonnes of surplus maize and ground maize each, Maz general secretary Allan Sakala said.
“Most of this maize will go to the Congo, although we have inquiries of maize requirements from Namibia as well. We are just making arrangements to start exports because the permission from the government is with immediate effect,” Sakala told Reuters.
The DRC continues to heavily on maize imports from Zambia as it rebuilds an agricultural sector that was devastated by decades of civil war. The need for maize is particularly dire in Lubumbashi, a city just across the DRC border with Zambia.
Sakala said the price of the exported maize would be determined by the market, though he noted that the Zambian government had slapped a $2 levy on each tonne of maize or ground maize meant for export.
Surplus from the 2005/06 maize crop will be used, he said.
The impending Zambian exports are less than what had been originally expected.
In June, Zambian Agriculture Minister Ben Kapita told Reuters that the government would allow farmers to export 350,000 tonnes of maize after the southern African nation recorded surpluses in the last three agricultural seasons.
But Zambia’s 2006/07 maize output declined 4.4 percent to 1.36 million tonnes from the previous growing season due to flooding that destroyed crops in a majority 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.