ZAMBIA – The government of Zambia has unveiled an administrative measure on the export of maize to neighbouring and other countries, a move the Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo said was to ensure food security in the nation, reports Lusaka Times.

According to him, the measure was not a ban but a temporary strategy attributed to lower maize purchases by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

FRA had targeted to reach the strategic national reserve of purchasing 500,000 metric tonnes of maize in this year’s crop marketing season by buying maize from farmers at a producer price.

For farmers, the price will reflect cost of production while cost of purchase, transport, storage and fumigation will be considered for millers.

FRA had so far bought 166, 831 MT as at 11th October, 2018, only 33.4% of the set target.

He said Zambia was practising a liberalized market economy to allow the private sector to participate in the purchase of the grain, adding that government was monitoring the transportation of maize and mealie-meal in the country.

The food agency announced last year it was reducing the number of satellite depots it operates from 1,223 to 760 countrywide.

It set maize buying price at 65 Kwacha (US$6.5) for a 50-kilogram bag for the 2018 crop marketing season, a five kwacha (US 50 cents) increase from last year.

The price was arrived at after a wide consultation with stakeholders among them Zambia National Farmers Union and Millers Association of Zambia among others.

It however increased its maize purchasing price to US$7.02 per 50kg bag for the 2018 crop marketing season at the directive of President Lungu

The agency had set the crop marketing season to begin on or before August 1st which is expected to see the moisture content drop to 12.5 percent from 13.82 percent as at July 12th.