wheat disease; cereal; tillage

Import of 150 000 tons of wheat in limbo

The import of 150 000 tons of wheat to avert a looming national shortage is hanging in the balance because of the 10% import duty, says Andrew Chintala, president of the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ).

“The 10% duty on imported wheat is too high and must be waived because there is a national deficit of the commodity,” Chintala said. According to MAZ, the 10% import duty will lead to increases in the price of bread and other flour products.

Earlier in the year, MAZ asked to import wheat following a deficit of 250 000 tons of the 540 000 tons needed for national annual consumption. It was intended as a stop-gap measure until the new crop harvest, scheduled for October, came in.

Ministerial sources close to the talks between the Ministry of Finance and MAZ say there were representations against the waiver of the import duty as requested by millers. Leading the opposition is the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) who says the proposed waiver will be harmful to local wheat production.

ZNFU has instead argued for Zambia to adopt the South African system of supporting local wheat production by maintaining the import duty permanently and revising it upwards whenever global wheat prices drop.

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