Zambia signed trade contracts worth US $100 million with grain traders from eastern Africa on Thursday for the export of 382,640 metric tonnes white maize, soyabeans and other grains.
The deals were sealed in Lusaka during a regional Trade Facilitation Forum organised by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in collaboration with Zambia Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE), with support of USAID’s East Africa Trade and Investment Hub and USAID’s Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub.
The forum brought together over 195 sellers and buyers of maize, soya beans, common beans, millet and other grain commodities from, Burundi, Malawi, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Currently, the Eastern Africa region is suffering an acute shortage of food grains, including maize and soybeans following poor harvest resulting from erratic rains experienced during the planting season in 2016.
Southern Africa on the other hand is currently facing a more positive outlook for food production.
Production prospects in 2017 for key food staples in Zambia, particularly maize, are quite favourable, with the country expected to record sufficient tradeable surplus this year of 3.2 million tonnes.
The Zambian government, which lifted a ban on maize exports in May, announced on Thursday the scrapping of a 10 percent tax on maize exports to make local producers more competitive to penetrate regional markets.
“As a government we declare that we will no longer have any export bans and we announce the removal of 10 per cent export tax on all grain commodities,” minister of finance, Mr Felix Mutati said.
He also said the government would ensure the simplification of export processes, and work with all governments in the region to support regional trade and to reduce on the rules on the certificate of origin.
And ZAMACE Executive Director, Mr Jacob Mwale, said the Commodity Exchange was committed to support the buyers and sellers through the provision of a trade platform, which includes buying and selling of commodities, ensuring compliance to industry acceptable Grades and Standards as well as coordinating the Zambian Commodities Futures Contract and providing market information.
“ZAMACE is committed to provide warehouse certification services and the issuance of negotiable warehouse receipts to the stakeholders,” he said.
Mr. Yohaness Assefa, Director in charge of Agriculture and Agribusiness with the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub project, was pleased that the forum had resulted in significant regional trade in staple foods by linking Zambian suppliers with buyers from East Africa to improve the food security outlook in the EAC region.
“Thanks to the hard work of EAGC and ZAMACE, our regional partners, 1.3 Million families in the EAC region will have access to affordable staple foods as a result of the over 380,000MT grains traded today,” he said.
Mr. Gerald Masila, the EAGC Executive Director said the Council would continue to engage the Zambian government to create mutually agreed mechanisms to facilitate trade between Zambia and eastern and southern African countries for the successful execution of trade agreements and optimal benefits of contracting parties.
He also called on policy makers and private sector actors to work together to reduce barriers to grain trade for the realisation of economic growth and increased productivity.
Since 2011, Musika supported the establishment of ZAMACE by providing technical assistance and financial support to maintain and develop its operations and also provided technical support to Zambia National Farmers’ Union and Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) in promoting greater private sector participation in grain marketing by smallholders.