ZAMBIA – In a bid to address concerns over maize scarcity in Zambia, Chief Government Spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa has revealed that Tanzania and Uganda have expressed their willingness to export maize to the country, citing the nations’ cordial relations.

Mweetwa was speaking during a media engagement in Livingstone while addressing the nation regarding the country’s food security status.

He emphasized that there is no need for panic, as the government is committed to ensuring the commodity remains accessible and affordable in the market.

This comes after Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema declared the country’s debilitating drought a national disaster and emergency, saying it had devastated food production affecting more than a million households.

Like some of its neighbours, this southern African country is suffering from severe drought due to the El Nino phenomenon, which is worsening harsh weather conditions attributed in part to climate change.

The drought has destroyed about 1 million hectares of the 2.2 million hectares planted with the staple maize crop, the president said.

Among a raft of measures, the Zambian government imposed restrictions on maize and maize flour exports citing that the prolonged dry period has put the harvest at risk.

“Owing to the prevailing situation, the government will continue to put the interest of the country above everything else. In this regard, it has restricted the export of maize grain and mealie meal,” Reuben Phiri, Zambian Minister of Agriculture said.

He said that the restriction will only be lifted after a careful assessment of the next harvest.

In a speech to the nation, Mr Hichilema said he had asked security forces to focus more on food production. He said 84 of the country’s 116 districts were affected by the prolonged drought and that authorities would take food from areas where there is a surplus and distribute it to areas in need.

Additionally, Zambia plans to increase food imports and mobilize UN agencies and local businesses to help.

According to Mweetwa, the Zambian government is set to conduct a crop harvest survey to gauge the maize production levels for the 2023-2024 farming season.

This survey, he stressed, is crucial for accurately estimating the required amount of maize to be sourced to guarantee food security in the country.

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