In what can be seen as an unintended consequence of Zambia’s maize ban, some parts of the country are already facing a shortage and hike in the price of mealie-meal. This due to smuggling on its northern and north western borders with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Law enforcement agencies are almost daily reporting arrests and impounding maize and mealie-meal on the Copperbelt and North Western provinces, gateway routes to the DRC.
In the latest incident, police on the Copperbelt arrested 12 people over the weekend and impounded hundreds of bags of mealie-meal. Also impounded in raids led by the Zambian army were 300 bicycles and more than 100 vehicles.
Defence minister Davis Chama called on security agencies to intensify patrols to safeguard Zambia’s food security.
“There are signs of desperation by people trying to smuggle mealie-meal outside of Zambia,” Chama said.
Sources have told africanfarming.com that a 25kg bag of white mealie-meal fetched as much as K400 in the DRC. This made smuggling an attractive prospect.
Copperbelt minister Bowman Lusambo is also worried after a number of towns in his province saw sporadic shortages and a price hike triggered by smuggling.
Lusambo says the long-term solution to smuggling was to have inter-governmental trade policies.
“We need to expedite a government-to-government trade policy to have a win-win situation for both countries,” he says.
Lusambo’s counterpart in North Western province, Ben Kapita, says smuggling is depleting stocks in his province, resulting in a price increase.
“We will be faced with a shortage of mealie-meal if the smuggling is not brought under control,” Kapita says.
Last week he imposed a ban on the movement of maize and mealie-meal in the province to curb smuggling.