Zambia maize prices soar as government banned exports, threaten drought hit Zimbabwe

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Prices of maize from Zambia have started rising after its government banned exports of the staple grain, Grain Miller Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said.

Zambia, which recorded a surplus in the last season, was exporting maize through the Food Reserve Agency, but suspended exports as it sought to verify the country’s food security.maize_farming_zambia

Zimbabwe, which is facing a serious shortage of maize, is now importing the grain from private players in Zambia who since have taken advantage of the export ban to hike prices. The grain price increase has also been triggered by high demand as South Africa has started importing organic maize from Zambia.

During the past three weeks, the landing price of gain rose by about 17 percent to $315 per tonne, according to Mr Musarara. “We all knew about this problem and that is why we wanted to start importing from May last year to ensure uninterrupted supply of maize and price stability,” said Mr Musarara.

He said the Government should expedite issuance of permits to allow importers to procure the grain from South America. “If we were given the permits to import from South America long back, we should, by now have imported enough grain. It was not viable to rely on Zambia. We need import permits to procure maize from South America; Argentina and Brazil to build up stocks before there is a shortage and riots.”

Last week, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made admitted the grain situation was precarious but assured that the nation will not starve. Dr Made blamed grain importers for failing to import enough maize despite being issued with permits.Herald