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.
[pullquote]“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.[/pullquote]
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.