LUSAKA ( Chris Mfula, Reuters) – Zambia has started exporting 100,000 tonnes of white maize to Malawi under an arrangement between the two countries and may lift a ban on private-sector exports in January next year, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
“The 100,000 tonnes of maize has already started moving through two companies and we are hoping that it will help alleviate the situation of food in Malawi,” Agriculture Ministry permanent secretary Julius Shawa told a news conference.
The United Nations World Food Programme was exporting an additional 60,000 tonnes of maize from Zambia to Malawi and Zimbabwe to mitigate the maize shortage in the two countries, he said.
Zambia’s Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is holding 280,000 tonnes of maize and would allow grain traders to resume exports after buying an additional 220,000 tonnes for strategic reserves, he said.
Grain traders were holding 794,785 tonnes of maize and had told the government that they were ready to supply the 220,000 tonnes of maize the government needed, Shawa said.
The available maize stocks were enough to last Zambia beyond the next harvest in April 2017 but the government would only resume exports after the FRA had 500,000 tonnes of maize in strategic reserves.
“Probably in January we may see a situation where exports can be resumed,” he said, referring to maize exports by private grain traders.
Zambia’s maize production rose to 2.87 million tonnes in the current 2015/2016 crop season from 2.60 million tonnes the previous season.