ZAMBIA – Zambia is in talks with Uganda for a possible supply of up to 500,000 metric tonnes of maize to replenish its depleted reserves that have exposed more than two million people to starvation.

David Kasura-Kyomukama, Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal, Industry and Fisheries Permanent Secretary revealed, through a letter dated March 25, 2024, that Kampala has received a request to supply up to 500,000 metric tonnes of grain to Lusaka.

“The Government of Uganda has received an expression of interest for up to 500,000 MT of maize grain to be exported to Zambia,” the letter said.

He added that the request has certain requirements including quality and available volumes to enable us to meet the export successfully.

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.

In February, President Hakainde Hichilema declared the drought a national disaster highlighting that it has adversely impacted the production of the crop in 84 out of the country’s 116 districts.

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

According to Zambia’s Food Security Cluster Joint Rapid Assessment Report (March 2024) drought has affected food availability in the country leading to significant shortages of key food commodities in the local market.

Moreover, Zambia’s economic challenges, including low growth, high fiscal deficits, and rising inflation, are exacerbating the humanitarian crisis, necessitating urgent action to address the root causes of Zambia’s vulnerability to climate-related disasters.

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.

Last month, Cornelius Mweetwa, Chief Government Spokesperson 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.

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