ZAMBIA – Zambia has signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo that will see the country Export about 600,000 metric tons of Maize and meali meal to the DRC starting in 2020.

The Memorandum of understanding is aimed at Commercialising maize exports to the DRC which has been smuggled for a long time and the agreement will ensure that a well-structured regime is put in place to promote trade.

Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo emphasised that exports in maize and maize products will commence next year after harvests.

“The exports under the MoU will start in 2020, as Zambia is coming from a bad season and currently does not have enough maize stocks to accommodate exports,” Mr Katambo said.

According to the quarterly global report 2019 on crop prospect and food situation by FAO, the maize output in Zambia decreased by 16 percent to 2 million tonnes, resulting in a second consecutive below-average harvest, following severe rainfall deficits in key producing western regions.

Mr Katambo is confident that with various interventions put in place, Zambia will see increased maize production in the 2019/2020 agricultural season.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, harvesting of the 2019 maize crop was concluded in May in southern uni-modal rainfall areas, while the secondary season maize harvest is underway in central and northern bi-modal rainfall areas.

Although crops benefited from adequate rains during the season in the main producing areas, the ongoing conflict in the Kasai, North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika regions continued to limit farmers’ access to crop growing areas adversely impacting on plantings reported FAO.

Congolese minister of national trade and commerce Jean Lucien Bussa said the two countries could boost trade by taking advantage of their vast border and that his government is committed to addressing obstacles that have negatively impacted trade between the two countries.

Both DR Congo and Zambia are members of SADC and Comesa trading blocs.

In 2015, the DR Congo market gobbled $574.8 million worth of Zambian products against $802.6 million recorded in 2014 for non-traditional export earnings, according to figures from Zambia Development Agency (ZDA).