GOVERNMENT has lifted the ban on exports of maize, says Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Wylbur Simuusa.
Mr Simuusa said in an interview yesterday that government has started issuing maize export permits to interested exporters following the issuance of statutory instrument (SI) No. 35 of 2014.
The SI revokes the ban on maize exports requiring exporters to specify the exact volume of maize, the source of the maize to be exported and the export destination of the maize, among other things.
Mr Simuusa called on maize exporters interested to ensure they get a permit or risk being arrested if they are found exporting without the permit.
“The ban on export of maize was lifted a week ago when I signed the SI,” he said.
The minister said government needed to ensure that opening maize exports does not result in increased mealie-meal prices and other grain products.
Mr Simuusa said Government is aware that the lifting of the ban on exports of maize will bring in much-needed foreign exchange in the country.
He said Zambia has vast opportunities for export markets but Government wanted to ensure the country has enough maize stock before considering lifting the ban.
The minister said government has put national food security as top priority and has been working at ensuring the country has enough stock to sustain the country before the new harvest starts.
Meanwhile, Mr Simuusa says several tenders at the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) were cancelled so that new contracts could be properly awarded to suppliers.
And Mr Simuusa said NCZ has so far produced close to 10,000 tonnes of Compound D fertiliser for this year’s farming season.
Workers at NCZ recently appealed to President Sata to help reverse the cancellation of tenders for the supply of raw materials.
Mr Simuusa said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the cancellation of tenders will not affect the production of Compound D fertiliser at NCZ.
“Without going into much detail, government will always insist that things should be done correctly. So, obviously, things have to be done correctly, the whole thing will be re-done,” the minister said.
He said the process of engaging new suppliers has already started and that bids have been advertised in the media.
Mr Simuusa urged the workers at Zambia’s largest fertiliser manufacturing plant to remain calm.
“I am calling on the people to be calm. I know that union leaders issued a statement [on the cancellation], but they should stay calm,” he said.
The minister said the plant has stocked enough raw materials needed for production of fertilisers.
The minister said out of over 100,000 tonnes which NCZ is expected to produce, it has so far manufactured close to 10,000 tonnes of Compound D fertiliser.
Mr Simuusa said despite the cancellation of tenders, NCZ has continued to produce Compound D for this year’s farming season.
“They have produced between 6,000 and 10,000 tonnes of Compound D fertiliser. They are supposed to produce 103,000 tonnes between now and August,” he said.
Mr Simuusa assured farmers that during this farming season there will be no delays in the distribution of farming inputs and that Government will do its best to address challenges faced in the past.
“We are all geared to make sure that fertiliser is in place in good time. We are starting early, within this month we are starting the distribution of the fertiliser,” he said.
Mr Simuusa said all farming inputs will be delivered to farmers by the end of August.