Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary Elias Kamanga has bemoaned heightened levels of smuggling of maize and maize products on the Chirundu border which he says is threatening food security.
Mr Kamanga observed that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is struggling to meet its one million metric tons maize purchase target due to rampant smuggling of the commodity across borders.
He observed during the launch of the District Food Security (maize and mealie meal anti-smuggling) task force at Mthudzi lodge in Chirundu that smuggling has been on the rise due to food deficit in the Southern African development Community (SADC) region which he said has been putting pressure on Zambia’s food security due to smuggling of the commodity.
“We have witnessed trucks moving on pretext that they are moving to districts within the Province but have been impounded at Chirundu border, a clear indication that they are destined to other countries,” he said.
Mr Kamanga also observed that Chirundu being one of the busiest exit points in Lusaka is a potential conduit for smuggling of maize and other food products and as such a taskforce to curtail these activities is important.
“The objective of the taskforce is to safeguard national food security by curbing illegal export or smuggling of maize and mealie meal to other countries. There is need for strict monitoring of international borders and mounting of checkpoints in strategic locations such as Chilanga and Kafue districts.” He said.
Mr Kamanga noted that Zambia has been food self-sufficient for close to two decades but was quick to mention that some neighboring countries have been experiencing periodic food deficit putting pressure on Zambia’s national food security.
The PS observed that Lusaka province has never been a hot spot because of the distance to the nearest borders.
“But after 23 trucks were impounded, it came to a realization that a lot of smuggling has been going on in the Province,” he said.
He wondered how much maize and mealie meal has been smuggled out through the borders before the discovery of the illegal activities.
Mr Kamanga says it is therefore the duty of the taskforce to ensure that the maize produced and stored within Lusaka province is secure by putting in place measures that will curtail smuggling of maize out of the country.
He has since advised the team in Chirundu district to take their task seriously by ensuring that they strictly monitor movement of maize and maize meal in the border district.