YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT says some people are allegedly exporting soya beans without permits.
And Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda said the country has up to 860,000 metric tonnes of surplus maize for export.
Mr Lubinda said in an interview that investigations have been instituted to ascertain people behind the export of soya beans and the destination of the commodity.
And the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) believes if soya beans is leaving the country, it should be through smuggling.
ZNFU executive director Ndambo Ndambo said in a separate interview that although there is no ban on the export of maize and soya beans, anyone exporting goods should obtain permits from relevant authorities.
â€œI believe if soya beans is leaving the country, then it should be through porous border areas because anyone exporting has to go through the necessary border processes, or unless it is being exported through corrupt means,â€ Mr Ndambo said.
Meanwhile Mr Lubinda said some private companies both local and from Zimbabwe have expressed interest to buy surplus maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
He said Government has allowed FRA to sell maize meant for export.
The minister said the sale of agriculture produce should not be limited to government alone but rather the private sector must also be active players.
â€œWe want to allow as much participation from the private sector in the marketing and trade of various agriculture commodities as possible,â€ he said.
Mr Lubinda said the FRAâ€™s sister company, the Grain Marketing Board of Zimbabwe (GMBZ) has also expressed interest to buy the surplus maize.
He said GMBZ was given certain conditions by FRA which they are yet to meet.
â€œWe offered GMBZ to buy the maize and so it is up to them to meet the set conditions. If you remember when President Lungu visited Zimbabwe, he did mention that the country had surplus maize and was in a position to export up to 600,000 metric tonnes. We actually have up to 860,000 tonnes of maize for export. We have authorised FRA to allow Zambian and Zimbabwean companies to buy the maize,â€ he said.
Mr Lubinda, however, said Government will continue to monitor the countryâ€™s maize reserve stocks to ensure food security.
YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka