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Lubinda allays hunger fears

FROM left: European Union head of economics, rural development and regional co-operation Matteo Sirtori and World Food Programme country director Simon Cammelbeeck with Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda during a press briefing on the State of the Nation’s Food Security in Lusaka yesterday. PICTURE: STAFRANCE ZULU

MINISTER of Agriculture Given Lubinda has reiterated that the country has adequate maize stocks to last until July 2016.
The minister said there is no need for people to panic because the country has enough stocks of maize.
Mr Lubinda said as at January 19 this year, the country had over 1.3 million metric tonnes of maize that will go up to the 2016/2017 harvesting season.
He told a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday that the maize stocks are in the hands of the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and the private sector.
“The northern half of the country has so far received better rainfall compared to the southern half of the country. It is likely that there will be more available maize for purchase in the northern half of the country.
“Despite the possibility of a reduction in production, I am confident that the country will still produce enough grain to take us through most of the 2016/2017 marketing season. This assessment is based on the latest crop monitoring information from the districts,” Mr Lubinda said.
He said FRA alone has a total of 902,812 metric tonnes of maize  and out of this, 708,515 metric tonnes of stocks of maize are committed to the millers for domestic consumption while 194,297 metric tonnes is uncommitted maize stock that the FRA is holding in reserve.
Mr Lubinda said according to the information submitted to the National Stocks Committee which is chaired by his ministry, the private sector had 379,985 metric tonnes of maize as at January 19, this year.
He said this maize is held by the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) and the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU).
“According to the national food balance sheet, the country requires approximately 125,000 metric tonnes of maize per month for human consumption and 25,000 metric tonnes for industrial uses such as stock feed and breweries.
“This brings the total maize requirements per month to 150,000 metric tonnes,” Mr Lubinda said.
He also said FRA has entered into contracts with 91 millers who are each receiving a monthly allocation of maize.
Mr Lubinda said FRA is releasing about 100,000 metric tonnes per month to millers who are participating in the programme.
He also said in view of the crop failure being experienced in some parts of the country, Government will not allow the export of maize.
Mr Lubinda also said importation of maize will be a last option the country will resort to.

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