Government has embarked on awareness rising to protect the maize meal and other maize products from smuggling.
The State has in this vain formed task forces to raise awareness among the public service workers on the adverse effects of smuggling the country’s staple food to neighbouring countries.
The Task forces comprises of security wings, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and representation from the provincial administration are holding sensitization meetings in all the eleven districts of in the province.
This came to light during a meeting with public service workers in Milenge District of Luapula Province yesterday.
And Task force leader Peggy Kaimba opening the meeting said the food security of the country is a priority to the government.
Ms. Kaimba, an Administrative Officer at the Permanent Secretary’s Office , said during the meeting that the aim of the highly subsidized Farmer Inputs Support Programme (FISP) by the government is to ensure the country is food secure.
It is for this reason that the government will not allow unscrupulous people to deprive its citizens of the maize meal which is mostly the country’s staple food through smuggling, she said.
And speaking during the same meeting , Dominic Fwankila from Luapula Province Police Division said the government has banned the export of maize and other maize products indefinitely.
“Government want to ensure that the nation is food secure and the ban on the export of maize and other maize products is indefinite,” Mr. Fwankila said.
Mr. Fwankila said only maize and maize products bought genuinely before the 30th of September 2015 and have valid documents can be allowed to cross the country’s borders.
He said the selling of food products outside the country is governed by the laws of the land and implored on the public service workers to be vigilant and help the security wings in enforcing the law.
The Security wings in the country have in the recent past impounded trucks laden with either maize meal or other maize products allegedly being smuggled to neighbouring countries.
Neighbouring country’s such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Burundi and Rwanda as some of the countries where the allegedly smuggled cargo was earmarked.
The commodity is fetching good money outside the country, the food security of the country must be preserved.
“While maize meal and other maize meal products are fetching good money in neighbouring countries, the food security of the country must be preserved,” he observed.
He said the fact that some people are engaging in smuggling of the maize meal elsewhere, Milenge District cannot be an exceptional because of proximity and the long porous border with the Congo DR.
And speaking during the same meeting, Noah Kanyeta of the Zambia National Service (ZNS) urged public service workers to partner with security agencies in the province to police crime.
“Public service workers must show patriotism to the government as citizens and be security alert to curb crime,” Mr. Kanyeta urged.
Mr. Kanyeta said the public service workers are not being patriotic and not helping the government by condoning smuggling activities in their neighbourhood.
“We are not being patriotic, we are not helping the government by allowing smuggling activities in our backyards,” Mr. Kanyeta said.
He said the food position of the nation is crucial and has the potential to cause war if not properly handled.
Mr. Kanyeta charged that public service workers are the eyes of the government and that they should report any suspicious transportation of the maize meal and other maize products to security wings.
Meanwhile the FRA representative Quevel Mapulanga during the same forum assured the people of Milenge District and Luapula as a whole that there is no need to panic because there are enough maize stocks.
“Luapula Province has enough maize stocks up to June this year in readiness for the 2015/2016 harvest,” Mr. Mapulanga assured.
Mr. Mapulanga said the people should not worry because the province has enough grain up to the harvest period and probably beyond.
He said the maize is stock pilled at the Samfya, Mansa, Kawambwa and Nchelenge FRA storage sheds.