Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) Executive Director Bernadette Deka says although improved maize yields in the region may affect the market price, farmers still have an opportunity to export to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

In a statement, Deka advised farmers to use cooperatives for maize trade to avoid being defrauded.

“The anticipated improved maize yields in the region may affect the market price for farmers intending to export maize within the SADC region. However, this provides an opportunity for farmers to turn to the northernmost marketing basin which involves exporting to the neighboring Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. Farmers are encouraged to take advantage of the price differentials between surplus and deficit countries which provide significant incentives for both formal and informal traders,” Deka stated.

“PMRC welcomes the lifting of the Maize Export Ban as it creates a larger market for maize trade enabling the private sector to benefit for the high prices outside the country. However, PMRC advises farmers to heed to government’s call to use cooperative for maize trade, which will enable greater bargaining powers and reduce the likelihood of being defrauded. PMRC urges the private sector to invest in agricultural infrastructure such as suitable storage facilities and warehousing.”

Deka however noted that the trading environment remained characterized by lack of harmonization in cross-border trade.

“PMRC notes with concern that the trading environment remains characterized by a lack of harmonization in cross-border trade, standards and significant non-tariff barriers such as domestic regulations. These conditions tend to discourage trade and affect maize trades adversely. PMRC urges the Government to lead cross-border trade reforms that will benefit the private sector and encourage greater volumes of trade that will ultimately benefit the consumers,” said Deka.

Deka also called for increased financial contingency to improve the response to natural calamities that threatened food security.