By Mr Emmanuel Muma
The Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) calls for Government to share a comprehensive and clear implementation status for the Maize/Mealie Meal Export & import MOU made on 2nd October 2019 between Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC).
Sharing common border provinces (Copperbelt, North-Western and Northern Provinces on the Zambian side , and Haut-Katanga, Lualaba and Tanganyika on DRC side ) the two countries have been working to strengthen the common relationship with a view to foster bilateral and mutual beneficial trade and economic ties . Noting with concern the negative effect of climate change on food security, resulting in substantial reduction in food production and supply in the Southern African Region, the two countries signed an MOU in 2019 to ensure food security and promote livelihoods to the benefits of their people.
CTPD notes that under the MOU Zambia undertake to export or supply 200,000 Metric tons of Maize, and 400,000 Metric tons of mealie meal to Congo on an annual basis beginning with the 2019/2020 harvesting season. Further, Zambia designated Zambia Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE), Zambia National Farmers Union ( ZNFU) , Grain Traders Association (GTAZ) and Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) as channels through which export of Maize/ Mealie Meal from Zambia into Congo will be facilitated under the MOU. The Ministry of Agriculture will serve as a focal point for ensuring coordination and monitoring the MOU’s implementation.
Cognisant of the MOU , CTPD notes that its over one and half years from the time the MOU was signed (2nd October ,2019) and we wonder if Government of Zambia has revealed or published a comprehensive and clear draw down export schedule indicating updates of the total quantities of Maize/Mealie Meal that have been exported to Congo against the annual targets ( 200,000 metric tons of maize , and 400,000 metric tons of mealie meal) and the names of entities involved.
CTPD is also concerned to know if the export market opportunity under this MOU is in the public knowledge and whether local small-scale farmers (SSF) have been sensitized countrywide and the extent to which they have been taken on board to participate in the export market under MoU. CTPD has also observed and confirmed through research that one of the biggest challenge faced by small scale farmers in Zambia apart from access to finance, is access to organised market and information. It is thus very critical to always bring to public knowledge important development agendas such as this.
CTPD considers the MOU as one strategic and potential tool for providing alternative export market for small scale farmers for this year’s marketing season (2022/2023) and beyond . The MoU is also key to promoting private sector participation in commodity marketing and input supply, but initiatives like this can only be achieved by promoting transparency in the implementation process.
In the same spirit ,CTPD would like to further urge the Government through FRA to stick to its mandated procurement of strategic reserves as provided in the act on the purchasing of 500,000 MT for reserves . This will allow private sector and other business players to participate effectively in commodity marketing and input supply.
Lastly it is our position that the Ministry of Agriculture shares the MOU road map if it has already developed one, this will help various interested stakeholders to know how best they can participate in the process. There is need to firm up the monitoring and evaluation system for the implementation of the MOU moving forward. We are of the view that failure to deliver would result in losing the potential export market with DRC switching camps to competitive potential neighbouring market in the Southern African Region such as South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.