ZAMBIA – The Zambian government has imposed restrictions on 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.

The government, he said, has since deployed defence personnel to guard all known smuggling routes, while security patrols and roadblocks are also being increased in districts prone to trafficking.

He, however, said the country is currently food secure, with about 800,000 metric tonnes of maize, which is enough to take the country beyond the next harvest.

The country expects low production despite its current move to introduce the Sustainable Agriculture Financing Facility credit window; an initiative designed to support and promote sustainable agriculture practices by providing accessible loans to farmers.

This targeted approach aims to benefit those farmers who are not covered under the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), allowing them to access essential resources for agricultural production.

Speaking during the launch, Minister Reuben Mtolo noted that this credit window is a significant step in advancing sustainable agriculture in Zambia, offering financial support to farmers and reinforcing the nation’s commitment to food self-sufficiency and economic growth.

Mtolo revealed that these loans will be made available through banks at a competitive interest rate of 12 percent.

The minister emphasized that all beneficiaries will be required to enter binding agreements, committing to selling their produce to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). This commitment serves as a market facilitation strategy, ensuring food security for the nation.

In July 2023, USDA reported that Zambia’s corn crop is expected to grow by 23 per cent to 3.3 MMT in MY 2023/24 (May 2023 to April 2024), mainly due to a 27 per cent upsurge in area harvested to an estimated 1.4 million hectares (MHa).

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