Farmers are concerned that the local maize market might implode as a consequence of an oversupply, aggravated by the current ban on exports.
Their concerns are fueled by a forecast of a reduction in the uptake of grain by the surrounding region, which was also expected to have a surplus this year.
The Zambian National Farmers Union (ZNFU), Grain Traders Association (GTAZ) and the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) voiced their concerns at a stakeholder meeting.
“The consequences of this maize oversupply, exacerbated by the current maize export ban, are that farmers, traders and millers risk going bankrupt,” the organisations said in a joint statement.
According to them, Zambia had an oversupply of 230 000 tons of maize. It will deflate the price of crops when carried over to the next marketing season.
The current prices for maize in Zambia is currently between K2000 and K2500 and ranges between US$200 and US$390 in the rest of southern Africa.
To avoid a price collapse, stakeholders urged government to immediately allow the export of surplus in the form of raw grain, mealie-meal and bran up to May 2017.
“Immediate action is desirable as there is a short-term window for export of maize into countries that currently have a deficit. Any delays may see the opportunity disappear,” says the statement.
According to estimates by ZNFU, Zambia will have a total of 915 000 tons of maize stock prior to the 2017 harvest. Of that, GTAZ holds 415 000, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) 280 000, MAZ keeps 60 000 and ZNFU holds 40 000 tons.
A further 120 000 tons was expected from farmers who planted early maturing maize.