By JAMES KUNDA –
AGRICULTURE Minister Michael Katambo has said that although the country will record a lower maize yield in the 2017/2018 farming season of 2,394,907 tonnes from 3,606,549 in the last season, it will remain food secure.
Mr Katambo told a Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that maize production for the 2017/2018 season was forecast to decrease to 2,394,907 tonnes, from 3,606,549 tonnes in the 2016/2017 season.
He said this represented a production decline of 33.6 per cent, with the main cause of the occurrence being prolonged dry spells experienced between November, 2017 and January this year.
Mr Katambo said the prolonged dry spells affected Central, Eastern, Lusaka, Southern and Western provinces, where 51 districts were affected, with rainfall performance below normal.
He said according to the national food balance sheet for the 2018/2019 marketing season, based on the crop forecasting survey, the country had produced sufficient maize for both human consumption and industrial use.
Mr Katambo said the country also had a maize carryover stock of 844,244 tonnes, making the total maize available: 3,239,151.
He said for the current population, the food balance sheet showed that the total maize required for human and industrial use, plus other commitments was 2,897,838 tonnes.
Mr Katambo said the total maize requirements included an anticipated national strategic reserve stock of 500,000 tonnes to be held by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
“When total maize requirements are subtracted from total maize availability, the food balance sheet indicates that the country has recorded a maize surplus of 341,313 tonnes,” Mr Katambo said.
He said FRA would this year only purchase 500,000 tonnes of maize for the national reserve, at a price to be determined by the agency.