By JAMES KUNDA
GOVERNMENT is seriously considering a proposal by commercial farmers who want to export a total of 180,000 tonnes of maize to some neighbouring countries.
Agriculture and Livestock Minister Wylbur Simuusa said Government has been asked by commercial farmers to help facilitate the export of grain to neighbouring countries which have requested for it.
Mr Simuusa, however, added that the farmers’ request was subject to consultations because Government has put national food security as top priority.
The minister said in interview that Government was considering the proposal by the farmers because Zambia could earn some foreign exchange through maize exports.
He said countries like Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, were all dependent on maize from Zambia, hence the need for this country to stimulate production of the grain.
“Commercial farmers have made a request to export 180,000 tonnes of maize to neighbouring countries but this will be subject to consultations as national food security is the Government’s top priority,” he said.
The Government recently banned maize exports to ensure food security following spiral increases in the price of mealie-meal.
As at the end of 2013, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) had exported 32,175.35 tonnes out of 205,000 tonnes of maize to Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe through the government-to-government agreement.
Zimbabwe was allocated a total of 150,000 tonnes of maize at a cost of K1,775 per tonne, while Malawi requested for 35,000 tonnes of maize at a cost of K1,750 per tonne.
The contract quantity for Tanzania is 20,000 tonnes of maize at a cost of K1,750 per tonne.
Meanwhile, Ndola District Agricultural officer Henry Matola has urged small-scale farmers in the area to promote crop rotation for good yields.
Mr Matola said during a Zambia Institute of Agriculture (ZIA) field day at Yada Farms in Kaniki that crop diversification was essential towards promoting good yields.
ZIA chairperson Christopher Kapembwa said small-scale farmers should be aligned to modern farming techniques if they are to improve the annual harvest.
Yada Farms has the annual capacity to produce two tonnes of maize, 50 kilogrammes of cassava, 210 kilogrammes of soya beans, 50 kilogrammes of groundnuts and 150 kilogrammes of rice per annum.