ZAMBIA – The Zambia government has negotiated a formal order with the Democratic Republic of Congo to export one million tonnes of mealie meal following the formalization of the trade mechanism put in place between the two nations.
President Hakainde Hichilema made the announcement in Namwala while on a working holiday at his Naminwe Farm.
According to the president, the Congolese government has for the first installment paid in advance through the bank 14. 5 million dollars which was deposited on Thursday, July 20th, 2023.
This comes after the recent declaration by the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture that it will no longer allow maize and mealie exports following the country’s maize and mealie meal shortage.
However, Hakainde assured Zambians that Zambia will not sell maize but mealie meal so that the country can keep the commodity in its reserves, get a better price and be able to minimize smuggling.
Since 2004, Zambia has consistently cultivated more maize, the national staple food, than is consumed domestically. In addition, the government buys the majority of maize directly from farmers to keep them in national reserves to cushion the country against shortages.
However, recently, the country has been grappling with unstable mealie prices due to smuggling at the borders particularly to Namibia.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, a bag of maize meal costs about 70 Kwacha (about N$71), but when smuggled into Namibia, traders triple the price to between N$250 to N$350 for a 25kg bag.
President Hakainde, however, assured Zambians that the government is committed to addressing the issue of smuggling which has continued to affect mealie meal prices.
He, therefore, called upon Zambians to support the growth of the agriculture sector through irrigation farming given existing crop export opportunities created.
” Let’s give more value to the farmers so that they increase maize production and will provide funds to support farmers to venture into irrigation farming. With farming inputs given early this year and a fair price will increase production,” he said.
Recently, Zambian Copperbelt Provincial Minister Elisha Matambo opened the Zambia National Service(ZNS) Eagles Mealie- Meal plant in collaboration with Muss Milling Plant in Chingola aimed to stabilize the prices of the country’s staple.