ZAMBIA – The Zambia National Service (ZNS) has revealed that about 76% of the 1,455 hectares of maize put to crop have been destroyed by the ravaging droughts, leaving only 359 hectares.

Speaking during a media briefing by the Zambia Business Times – ZBT, ZNS commander Lieutenant General Maliti Solochi said that even from the 359 hectares spared, very little to nothing is expected to be harvested.

He further revealed that of the 120 hectares of early maize put to crop at ZNS Munsakamba in Mkushi, ZNS expects to harvest about 960 tons of maize.

Solochi therefore noted that ZNS will be undertaking short-term and medium-term interventions such as suspending the growing of wheat among other measures to heed the declaration of drought as a national disaster and emergency.

“In heeding to the timely declaration of drought as a national disaster and emergency, the Zambia national services will this year suspend the growing of wheat to commit all its irrigation equipment to grow irrigated maize,” he said.

Among a raft of measures, two new farms namely Shikabeta farm in Rufunsa and Luena farm in Kawambwa will be added to ZNS to grow maize, adding 128 and 520 hectares respectively.

The Zambia national service will also put to crop 1, 978 hectares of irrigated maize by the end of July this year, with a projected yield 1 5 000 metric tons of maize grain by the end of the third quarter of 2024.

According to Solochi, the expected decline in maize production will likely affect the cheaper mealie meal that Zambia National Service – ZNS has been providing to vulnerable citizens.

However, he assured that ZNS will continue working around the clock to ensure Eagle’s Mealie meal is produced from its milling plants and we shall further continue to bring more retailers based in communities on board to ensure easy access to the commodity.

The outcry comes after the recent move by the government of Zambia to restrict maize and maize flour exports due to a prolonged dry period that has put the harvest at risk.

Reuben Phiri, Zambian Minister of Agriculture announced the measure while delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament on the country’s food security situation.

“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,” the minister said.

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

According to the minister, 10 provinces have been affected by the prolonged dry spell, hence the government foresees a reduced maize harvest this season.

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