‘Optimise regional maize drop’

ZAMBIA should treat southern Africa’s low maize yields as an opportunity to produce more grain for export to deficit countries in the region.
The region’s decreasing maize yields should be used to stimulate the growth of the non-traditional export sub-sector to boost Zambia’s foreign currency earnings.
Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) executive director Isabel Mukelabai said the huge volumes of maize in Zambia present an opportunity for the country to maximise its market share within the Southern African Development Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
Zambia is expected to record 2,873,052 tonnes of maize during the 2015/16 agricultural season, representing an increase of 9.73 percent from the 2014/2015 period’s 2,618,221-tonne grain harvest.
Ms Mukelabai said in a statement availed to the Daily Mail on Thursday that selling maize to the region could help Zambia raise additional foreign exchange that will, in turn, strengthen the Kwacha.
“Government should take advantage of the good harvest and devise a marketing modality that will help the country to realise the much-needed foreign exchange through export trade using the Zambia Commodity Exchange [ZAMECE] while at the same time taking care of the local consumption demand through the strategic reserves as well as the 2.3 million earmarked for domestic and industrial use,” she said.
She said there will be increased demand from deficit markets, hence the need for Zambia to strategise to ensure small-scale farmers benefit from their labour.
Ms Mukelabai, however, said CTPD is concerned that commercial farmers are abandoning maize cultivation, saying this is affecting Zambia’s incomes from exports as small-scale farmers have no capacity to supply deficit countries in the region.

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