The Centre for Trade Policy and Development has urged Zambia to see the decreasing maize production yields within SADC as an opportunity to grow Non Traditional Exports (NTEs) and increase Revenue generation for the country through maize trade.
CTPD Executive Director Isabel Mukelabai also noted that for over 7 years now Zambia has been a surplus maize producer adding that this means Zambia has the ability to grow maize beyond its human and industrial consumption demand as can as can be seen in the table below table.
“In the 2015/16 agriculture season, Zambia has recorded an increased maize harvest with an output of 2,873,052 metric tonnes of maize, an increase of 9.73 percent from the 2,618,221 tons produced 2014/15,” Mrs. Mukelabai said.
“In addition to this, there is carry-over stock amounting to 667.524 metric tonnes as at May 1, 2016 of which, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is holding 360,648 metric tonnes, the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) 207,771, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) 36,701 while small and medium scale farmers hold about 38,751. When compounded, the 2015/2016 agricultural season will have 3,540,577 tonnes.”
She said given this volume of maize, CTPD sees a ripe opportunity for Zambia to maximize market advantage within SADC and COMESA regions to the current maize deficit.
Mrs. Mukelabai said this would help the country to raise additional foreign exchange that will in turn help to address currency stability.
“Government should take advantage of good harvest and devise a marketing modality that will help the country to realize the much needed foreign exchange through export trade using the Zambia Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE) while at the same time take care of the local consumption demand through the strategic reserves as well as the 2.3 million earmarked for domestic and industrial use,” she said.
She said with this projected outlook, CTPD sees demand from deficit markets increasing and there is need for Zambia to strategize to ensure small scale farmers benefit from their labor.
“It will be very unfortunate to organize the marketing modality in such a way that it promotes the interest of a select few players within the marketing chain who have continued to hold the country at ransom without passing on the benefits to the consumer even when government subsidize their input purchase.”
Mrs. Mukelabai has since demanded that government should stop subsidizing the millers and instead channels resources to efforts around boosting productivity.
“On the other hand, CTPD is concerned that the commercial farmers have continued to exit the production of maize, this is robbing the country from potential revenue as these farmers are actually more productive and competitive compared to our small scale farmers.”
She added, “We urge the government to restore confidence in our commercial farmers by maintaining an open border policy so as to encourage more production and policy stability for their participation in export trade given the market access advantage we enjoy through various Free Trade Agreements with the region.”