Logistical challenges coupled with the recent appreciation of the kwacha against the US dollar are hampering Zambia’s maize exports to East African markets. This according to the latest update on Southern Africa’s regional supply and markets, sent out by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET).
According to FEWSNET, the obstacles have triggered rampant smuggling into markets facing a grain deficit.
Zambia has a maize harvest of 3.6 million tonnes, enough for national consumption and export. By contrast, neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as East African countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania are facing a huge grain deficit.
“Formal maize exports to East African markets are slow because of logistical obstacles and a lack of competitiveness of Zambian maize because of the strong appreciation of the kwacha against the US dollar.
“In contrast, substantial levels continue to be informally exported to the DRC and Tanzania,” says FEWSNET.
Due to low demand and low prices, local maize marketing activities are not doing any better. Prices range between K40–K50/50kg, a drop of more than 50% from last year, causing concern among farmers. Soya bean prices have also dropped by as much as 65%.
Meanwhile, the Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA) and Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL), called in by the Zambian government to ease the export of 1.2 million tonnes of maize to East Africa, are yet to come up with their rates.
Road freight companies charge US$85 per ton, which will make the export of Zambian grain noncompetitive.
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