Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya has said that “the maize and mealie meal ban still stands until the Country is food secure.”
Ms Siliya was responding to a delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) led by Minister of Agriculture also Acting Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Mr Jean-Marie Bulambo Kilosho who is in the Country to have talks with government on various issues surrounding the Two countries especially people living near the boarder area.
She said the country stores about a million metric tonnes in it’s reserves to sustain the country but that the country has less and given the prevailing challenges of Army Worms and Red locusts attacking most Maize fields in the country, Government has to make sure enough is stored as this year’s harvest might be affected.
F Ms Siliya explained that as a country, it was necessary to place an embargo on the export of maize and mealie meal as government has to ensure the country is food secure.
“Yes we applaud the Zambian business community and as government, we can not suppress them as they contribute to the country’s economic growth but were we stand, we understand that the country has about 700,000 – 800,000 metric tonnes of maize but most of it is seating with the private entity who are also responsible for supplying the commodity to the Zambian people. And if the ban is lifted, the Zambian people will feel the pressure as the commodity will become expensive and not enough will be reserved,” Ms Siliya said.
The Minister further said that as the Ministry of Agriculture, there is need to consult the Head of State if the export of the requested 20,000 metric tonnes of the commodity should be exported as this can only be done in a government to government request.
In the Zambian delegation was Presidential Affairs Minister Hon Freedom Sikazwe, Livestock Minister Hon Micheal Katamba, Zambia National Service (ZNS) Deputy Commandant Major General Alick Kamiji, Permanent Secretaries from Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and other government officials.
Speaking earlier Mr Kilosho said his delegation was hoping that the meeting will bring about solutions to combat the challenges and also strengthen the relationship between the two Countries.
Mr Kilosho who gave a brief history of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and alluded that the DRC would like to see this relationship grow stronger.
Meanwhile Mr Kilosho said the main reason of the visit was to address the Maize and Mealie Meal embargo that has been placed making it difficulty for Congo to access food from Zambia.
The Congolese Minister requested the Zambian government to allow 20,000 metric tonnes of maize be exported as it was a signed Agreement between a local supplier from Zambia and the Congolese government and further requested an extra 30,000 metric tonnes export of the commodity to Congo.
The duo were speaking at a press briefing held at the Vice President’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), Mr Kilosha also said the government of Congo is hoping that the deliberations will bring about coorperation between the two governments especially from the Zambian side to allow Maize and Mealie Meal be exported to the Congo.