The Zambian government has approved the import of 150 000 tons of wheat to avert a looming shortage.
Confirming the development, Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) president Andrew Chintala called on government to also waiver duty on the import of the commodity to maintain stable prices of wheat products.
“The payment of duty on imported wheat would trigger an increase in the price of bread and other wheat products,” Chintala said.
The government is yet to respond to the millers’ request to waiver duty.
However, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) was dead set against the waiver of duty. They argued that the move will only give leverage to advanced economies to dump cheap imports on the Zambian market.
The farmers’ body instead urged government to adopt the South African system of supporting local production of wheat by maintaining the import duty permanently and revising it upwards whenever global wheat prices drop.
The need for the massive wheat imports is necessitated by the 250 000 ton deficit in the last farming season. Zambia harvested less than 300 000 tons, much less than the estimated 540 000 tons needed for national consumption.
The deficit in wheat production is attributed to drought and power failures.
Chintala said the import of wheat was a stop-gap measure until October when the harvest for this season is expected.