ARTHUR MWANSA, Lusaka
Zambia has recorded another maize bumper harvest projected to increase from last season’s 2.8 million metric tonnes to 3.6 million metric tonnes for the 2016-2017 season.
Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya has also announced the lifting of the export ban of maize and maize products.
Ms Siliya said yesterday that Zambia will produce 3,606,549 metric tonnes of the staple food this season, an increase by 733,491 metric tonnes from last season’s 2,873,052 metric tonnes.
She said this in Lusaka during a media briefing on the crop forecasting survey for the 2016/2017 season and the food balance status for the 2017/2018 marketing season.
Ms Siliya said the national average yield rate for maize has increased slightly from 2.10 metric tonnes per hectare last season to 2.19 metric tonnes this season.
“As already stated, total maize production in the 2016/2017 season has been estimated to be 3,606,549 metric tonnes. The country’s maize carry-over stock is amounting to 569,317 metric tonnes as at May 1, 2017,” she said.
She said the Food Reserve Agency will also purchase up to 500,000 metric tonnes of agricultural commodities including maize for strategic food reserves.
Ms Siliya said the food balance sheet shows that the total maize required for human consumption, industrial use and other commitments amounts to 2,997,350 metric tonnes.
The production of millet is projected to increase by 8.65 percent from 29,973 metric tonnes last season to 32,566 metric tonnes this season.
Rice yields are estimated to increase by 44.04 percent from 26,675 metric tonnes last season to 38,423 metric tonnes.
“The production of groundnuts is forecast to increase by 28.23 percent to 168,699 metric tonnes from 131,562 metric tonnes last season, while mixed beans is projected to increase slightly by 1.29 percent to 45,938 metric tonnes from 45,351,” Ms Siliya said.
Production of burley tobacco is also estimated to rise by 29.95 percent from 6,476 metric tonnes to 8,416 metric tonnes while Virginia tobacco yields are envisaged to reduce by 3.68 percent from 12,540 metric tonnes to 12,079 metric tonnes.
Sorghum production is expected to increase from 14,107 metric tonnes to 17,337 metric tonnes.
Ms Siliya said soya beans production is estimated to rise to 351,416 metric tonnes from 267,490 metric tonnes.
“According to the crop forecast survey results, national cassava flour equivalent for the 2016/2017 season has been forecast to increase to 923,795 metric tonnes compared to 854,393 metric tonnes,” she said.
However, production of seed cotton is expected to decrease from 111,902 metric tonnes last season to 89,293 metric tonnes.
“In order to encourage the private sector to actively participate in maize marketing, I am pleased to announce that the export ban on maize and maize products is hereby lifted,” Ms Siliya said.
She encouraged farmers to continue diversifying their crop production and take agriculture as a business.
Ms Siliya said farmers should use cooperatives to their advantage and negotiate the best price to avoid being taken advantage of by farm produce traders.