Zambia’s ban on the export of maize has been lifted.
According to Reuters, Zambian agricultural minister Dora Siliya told state radio ZNBC the ban was lifted after maize production for the 2016/’17 season increased to 3.61 million tons from 2.87 million tons in the previous season.
Siliya said the country also has 569 317 tons of carryover stock from the previous harvest.
“The country produced sufficient maize for both human consumption and industrial use. The export ban on maize and maize products is hereby lifted,” she said.
Siliya said the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will participate in the market. FRA will ensure it maintains 500 000 tons of maize in national strategic reserves.
The country stopped maize exports in October 2016 to protect strategic reserves after the drought in 2015/’16 caused shortages in the region. This was done despite Zambia increasing its maize harvest for 2016 to 2.87 million tons from the 2015 harvest of 2.6 million tons.
Because of the volume of carry-over stock, several industry players asked for the ban to be lifted.
In April, the Zambian National Farmers Union warned farmers to brace for poor maize prices, citing “government interference in maize marketing and indirect taxes”. It believes the high demand from neighbouring countries is a missed opportunity for farmers to fetch good prices.
The main maize producer on the continent, South Africa, however expects an increase of over 80 % in their maize harvest this year compared to the 2016 season, and is expected to return to a net exporting status, also filling up regional markets.
The considerable increase in the maize harvest is attributed to rainfall levels returning to normal and even exceeding the average in the 2016/’17 summer rain season.
Earlier this year, however, there were fears that a fall armyworm invasion might threaten the 2017 harvest.