Zambia forecasts 69% increase in maize production to over 3.3m metric tonnes

ZAMBIA – Zambia has projected a 69% rise in maize production in the 2019/2020 agricultural season to 3,387,469 metric from the 2,004,389 metric tonnes produced last season.

Small and medium scale farmers are expected to contribute up to 93 percent of the total maize production i.e. 3,160,185 metric tonnes while the large scale farmers are expected to produce 227,284 metric tonnes representing  7 percent of the total maize production.

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Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo announced this when he released the 2019/2020 Crop Forecast Survey, stating that the country had a maize carry-over stock amounting to 179,247 metric tonnes as at 1st May, 2020 therefore the total supply of maize available for the 2020/2021 marketing season is 3,566,716 metric tonnes.

The increase in maize production can be largely attributed to favourable weather, the early delivery of inputs under the farmer input support programme, and the renewed confidence in growing maize, reports Zambian Business Times.

Minister Katambo added that the ministry has this year factored in a purchase target of 1,000,000 metric tonnes for the Food Reserve Agency’s buying target with a surplus of more than 710,000 metric tonnes from the usual purchase of 500,000 metric tonnes.

He said despite factoring in the higher FRA maize purchase target, the country has still managed to record a maize surplus of over 210,000 metric tonnes in 2020 implying that the country is food secure and will remain as such for the next year to come provided smuggling is controlled.

With a projected population of over 17 million people, the total maize required is 3,356,617 metric tonnes and these are broken down as 1,603,383 metric tonnes for human consumption, 1,000,000 metric tonnes for strategic food reserves and 409,018 metric tonnes for industrial requirements.

“Taking into account all the requirements and post-harvest losses, the country is expected to have a surplus of 210,099 metric tonnes,” Minister Katambo said.

He said the ministry is currently facilitating the export of 83,000MT of early maize which is both expensive and is not required on the local market, however, the early maize and humanitarian related exports will have no bearing on national food security.

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The ministry has since pledged to focus on enhancement of productivity particularly for small scale farmers adding that the ministry’s major thrust is to ensure production increases to a minimum of 4 tonnes per hectare through the promotion of good agriculture practices.

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