price; president

Government challenges farmers on maize export duty

President Edgar Lungu has challenged farmers to produce more to get a waiver on the 10% maize export duty.

“We introduced the export tax on maize exports to preserve food security and not as a measure of revenue collection. Therefore, farmers must invest heavily to produce more maize for local consumption and export,” Lungu said.

He met the Zambian National Farmers Union (ZNFU) to address challenges faced by farmers.

Speaking at the same meeting, Finance Minister Felix Mutati said he will soon announce the production benchmark farmers must meet to qualify for a waiver on raw maize exports.

“Whether we peg the production benchmark at 2 million tons for example, the 10% will fall away to encourage exports while retaining enough national grain reserves,” he said.

ZNFU is pushing for favourable marketing conditions following this year’s bumper harvest. According to ZNFU, the benefits of the bumper harvest is undercut by the 10% export duty, local government levies and toll gate fees.

Meanwhile, uncertainty in the maize market deepened last weekend when government announced that it won’t be setting the floor price this season. Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya said government will instead offer its price to farmers through the Food Reserve Agency, while other buyers are free to do the same.

Currently, private grain buyers are buying raw maize at K50/50kg, much to the chagrin of farmers who complain that it is a drop from last’s year’s K85/50kg.

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