By CHUSA SICHONE-
ZAMBIA is projected to record a historical maize bumper harvest of 3,350,671 tonnes exceeding last year’s production of 2,532,800 tonnes.
Agriculture and Livestock Minister Wylbur Simuusa announced that this is according to the 2013/2014 Crop Forecasting Survey (CFS).
“Zambia is forecast to produce the highest quantity of maize ever recorded in the country’s history. According to this year’s forecast, maize production is expected to exceed last year’s production by 32.29 per cent, to reach a record high of 3,350,671 metric tonnes,” Mr Simuusa said.
The Minister made the announcement during a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Simuusa said 93 per cent of the total production came from small and medium scale farmers while the rest was produced by large scale farmers.
In 2010/2011 Zambia produced 3,020,380 tonnes, while in 2009/2010 it produced 2,795,483 tonnes
Mr Simuusa said Government would this year increase the number of beneficiaries in the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to one million small and medium-scale farmers.
The Ministry, he said, would also ensure that the FISP fertiliser was distributed to the farmers by August 31, this year.
“This year’s good maize harvest provides the country with a good opportunity to adequately feed the nation and the potential to export the surplus crop,” he said.
Mr Simuusa said the country had a maize carry-over stock of 597,192 tonnes, most of which was under safe storage with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), private traders and commercial farmers.
“When we add this maize carry-over stock from last season to the forecast maize production for the 2013/2014 agricultural season, the estimate for the total available maize for the 2014/2015 marketing season is 3,947,863 metric tonnes,” he said.
The Minister said the food balance sheet showed that an estimated population of 15.2 million people required 1,532,194 tonnes of maize for human consumption while 355,630 tonnes was needed for industrial use.
The total requirement for human consumption, strategic reserves, industrial requirements and other uses was estimated 2,795,358 tonnes.
“When the total maize requirements are subtracted from the estimated total maize availability, the food balance sheet indicates that the country has recorded a maize surplus of 1,152,505 metric tonnes,” he said.
He said indicators had shown that the maize prices were not supposed to be high and that he would engage stakeholders in the food chain to ensure that mealie-meal prices dropped to between K50 and K60.
Mr Simuusa said that the FRA was in this year’s marketing season expected to buy 500, 000 tonnes of maize once the moisture content had reached desired levels.
The CFS for the 2013/2014 season indicated an increase in rice, tobacco millet and groundnuts cultivation but with a decline in the production of cassava, soya-bean, wheat, cotton, sorghum and sweet potatoes.