Zambia’s maize export ban should not be expected to be lifted in view of the intermittent drought conditions being experienced in some parts of the country, say the Grain Traders’ Association of Zambia (GTAZ).
And the Association has described government’s move to lift the ban on mealie meal exports as a “fair compromise” for grain traders to help add value to the raw commodity.
Reacting to the Ministry of Agriculture’s lifting of the ban on mealie meal exports, GTAZ executive director Chambuleni Simwinga welcomed the move, but explained that traders remained pessimistic of the government going a step further to lift the ban on maize exports.
Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo announced the lifting on the ban of mealie meal exports last Sunday following consultations with key stakeholders on the maize availability situation in the country.
According to Katambo, the move reflected government’s satisfaction that Zambia was now food secure given the availability of maize on the local market.
“I don’t see it happening now. I will be fair-minded, reason being: the current drought situation; these pronouncements are also creating [uncertainty] with the policymakers. So, sometimes, if we were to push for maize with these comments going round about almost 53 districts with drought is that, it becomes a tall order to negotiate with government,” Simwinga said in an interview.
“It’s something (maize export ban) that we can work around, especially after the (2019) Crop Forecast Survey.”
And he described government’s move to lift the ban on mealie meal exports as a “fair compromise” for grain traders to help add value to the raw commodity.
“It’s a very good pronouncement; better late than never. Even to get the mealie meal exported, it was not easy so we had to compromise ourselves and say ‘let’s go for value-added products’,” he explained.
Asked if grain traders were happy with government’s move to lift the ban on mealie meal exports, but still maintain restrictions on maize, he said traders would persevere.
“For us, as traders, we will try and recover. It is a fair compromise. We are okay with it. Being happy and being okay are two different things, isn’t it?” Simwinga replied.
He, however, expressed optimism of a decent maize harvest still being recorded this year despite dry spells experienced in the southern parts of the country.
“Traditionally, we have had issues of drought in these areas; it’s not the first time. Gwembe, we have seen troubles in those high temperature areas. But we have had good rains, starting from Kapiri (Mposhi) up to Muchinga, Luapula, Northern Province, Central, the Copperbelt and North-Western, too. And these are the ones that produce most of the 2.3 million tonnes of maize. So, I reckon we might even get 2.6 million tonnes,” said Simwinga.