Farmers Press For More Export Of Wheat, warn againt import of Irish potatoes

Agent in Eco-T treated wheat in Zambia

Wheat farmers in Zambia have asked the government to allow them to export another 20,000 tons of wheat due to excess production of the crop, industry bodies said on Wednesday.

The request to export another 20,000 tons of wheat follows a surplus of 40,000 tons produced in the 2012/2013 season. The government has already allowed stakeholders to export 10,000 tons of the commodity from the previous season.

After a meeting held by the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) and the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) on Monday, the associations recommended that the government should allow them to export 20,000 tons of wheat from the newly-harvested crop due to a production surplus of over 40,000 tons, according to a statement released to the media.

According to the statement, Zambia has produced about 314,463 tons of wheat in the 2012/2013 season while the stakeholders still have another 28,895 tons of the commodity from the previous season.

“Wheat stakeholders have recommended exportation of 20,000 metric tons of wheat from the newly-harvested crop due to a production surplus of over 40,000 tons in the 2013 season,” the statement said.

The stakeholders have also projected a rise in local demand for wheat by-products during the coming four months but noted that the country still has enough wheat to satisfy the demand.

Zambia’s annual wheat consumption is about 160,000 tons.

Zambian farmers warn import of Irish potatoes hurt production

“The local potatoes industry has made some steady growth over the years but could have grown more if it were not for the illegal imports,” the Potatoes Growers Association said in a statement obtained here on Wednesday.

According to the statement, local potato growers have expressed concern over the influx of unmonitored illegal imports of cheap Irish potatoes, mainly from South Africa and Tanzania, adding that about 150 tons of illegally imported Irish potatoes were finding their way into Zambia every month.

The government has in the past made attempts to ban illegal imports of Irish potatoes, the association said, expressing concern that seed potatoes and frozen chip potato products have continued finding their way into Zambia.

The statement said other countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa have been blocking imports of potatoes from Zambia, wondering why this should not be applied in Zambia.

Potato farmers in Zambia have made huge investments to increase production and that currently the southern African nation produces around 50, 000 tons of potatoes per year, according to the statement.

“This is an industry that has huge potential to create wealth and jobs in the country but it is threatened by illegal imports. Why should we continue allowing these potatoes to enter our borders? We need this to be urgently addressed to save our local industry,” the statement added.