ZAMBIA and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed on terms to supply maize to that country from Zambian private entities, in a latest bid to stop smuggling.
Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda said in an interview yesterday that following meetings between Zambia and a delegation from the DRC, it was agreed that the Congolese can import Zambian maize held by the private sector.
Last week, a special delegation from the DRC, constituted by that country’s president Joseph Kabila, visited President Edgar Lungu and some ministers at State House in a bid to reach an agreement on how best Zambia could supply that country with maize and mealie-meal.
Many people of the DRC depend on Zambia for their supply of the commodities, which was, however, mainly smuggled into that country.
Recently, Zambia experienced a shortage of mealie-meal, mainly through smuggling, which forced the authorities to intensify efforts to plug the smuggling.
Mr Lubinda said yesterday that the Congolese counterparts were in Zambia asking the Zambian Government to supply them with maize.
“We told them we were unable to supply them with maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), but they could import maize from the private sector,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said Government had issued some private sector players with export permits to trade in maize.
The Ministry of Agriculture had a list of the private sector players that had volunteered information that they had maize.
Those that had applied for export permits were issued with the permits.
Private sector without export permits issued by the ministry could not export to the DRC.
President Lungu directed that there was need to make the trade of maize between the DRC and Zambia official, in order to reduce on smuggling and maximise benefits for the two governments.
Mr Lungu said Zambians and the Congolese were one people, who needed to work together and promote a much more controlled trade so as not to disadvantage Zambians of essential commodities.
The DRC Mines Minister Martin Kabweulu, who led the Congolese delegation, said that the people of that country needed maize and mealie-meal from Zambia and President Kabila wanted to formalise the trade.