By CHUSA SICHONE –
Government has with immediate effect restricted the movement of maize and maize meal to between 06:00 hours and 18:00 hours.
Law enforcement agencies will confiscate any maize or maize meal transported beyond 18:00 hours.
The restriction on the movement of the products is one of the measures the Government has taken to ensure that the commodity remains available on the market to meet local demand and mitigate artificial shortages.
Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa announced this during a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday, which was also attended by his Home Affairs counterpart Chileshe Mulenga and Lusaka Province’s Stardy Mwale.
Other measures are limiting maize exports for pre-existing contracts to 227,245 tonnes.
All such exports should be supported by valid export documents which should be availed to law enforcement officers on demand.
“Failure to avail law enforcement officers with appropriate valid export documentation will result in the confiscation of the maize and forfeiture of the trucks used.
“Any suspicious movements of maize and maize meal, as well as any bulk-buying and hoarding should be reported to the offices of the district commissioners or any public offices,” he said.
Mr Shawa said although Zambia was food-secure, it had been observed that food insecurity affecting some countries in the region was causing unnecessary anxiety locally.
He assured that Zambia remained food-secure even amidst the current regional food deficit as the country had adequate stocks.
“To date, 762,668 tonnes of maize have been allocated to the millers for the domestic market. A further 174,532 metric tonnes remain uncommitted and is available for the school-feeding programme, community sales and food relief under the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit,” Mr Shawa said.
He said the available food stocks were sufficient to take Zambia to the next harvest season and urged the citizenry to remain calm and desist from hoarding maize or maize meal.
Mr Shawa said the recently-impounded maize and maize meal, including that in pre-existing export contracts under the private sector, was currently being verified to check for valid export documentation and whether the exporters were on the list of those on pre-existing export contracts.