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July 23, 2009

Zambia reports record maize surplus

Zambia has harvested a record maize surplus this year, the agriculture minister has said, after suffering a shortfall last year that forced the country to import food.

In the just-ended harvest season the southern African nation produced 1.8 million tonnes of maize, the staple grain, agriculture minister Brian Chituwo said in a statement.

That has left Zambia with a surplus of 203,000 tonnes -- roughly the same size as its shortfall last year, when 1.4 million tonnes were harvested.

Chituwo said the government would allow 100,000 tonnes of the surplus to be exported, but only in small lots.

Better rains during the last farm season helped improve the harvest, averting the need to import maize, which drove up prices last year and made it even more difficult for the nation's poor to get enough to eat.

Zambia is one of the world's poorest countries, ranking 165 out of 177 on the UN's Human Development Index, which ranks quality of life in countries around the world.

AFP

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