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May 18, 2011

Zambia in new maize harvest record

by Rebecca Chileshe

Zambia has again recorded a maize bumper harvest of 3,020,380 metric tonnes, breaking last year’s record of 2,795,483 metric tonnes.

The country has also posted an increase in the harvest of non-staple crops.

Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives Eustarckio Kazonga announced the news at a press briefing on the crop forecasting survey for the 2010/2011 agricultural season and the food balance status for the 2011/2012 marketing season.

The food balance sheet indicates that the country has recorded a maize surplus of 1,661,626 metric tonnes.

“I am pleased to inform the nation that production of maize, soya beans, cotton, Irish potatoes and tobacco has increased compared to last season. The official crop production estimates that I am releasing today are based on a universally applied scientific survey method that is used every year,” he said.

Kazonga said this year’s large maize harvest provides the country with a good opportunity to adequately feed the nation and the potential to export the surplus. He, however, said such a huge crop has its own challenges such as ensuring availability of adequate storage facilities, putting in place mechanisms and incentives that will result in effective value addition of maize.

The minister said the other challenge is addressing the cost of production in order to make Zambia’s export of maize and other produce more competitive.

Kazonga said the national food balance sheet for the 2011/2012 marketing season based on the crop forecasting survey shows that the country has produced enough maize for both human consumption and industrial use.

He said because of the good production experienced in the previous season, the country has a large amount of maize carry-over stock amounting to 848,606 metric tonnes.

“This is the largest carry-over stock ever recorded by the country,” he said.

Kazonga said most of the maize is under safe storage with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), private traders and commercial farmers.

Kazonga said the total supply of maize available for the 2011/2012 marketing season is 3,868,986 metric tonnes.

He said for an estimated population of 13.4 million, the food balance sheet shows the total maize required for human consumption amounts to about 1.3 million metric tonnes and that the estimates for stock feed and breweries is 270,000 metric tonnes.

Maize requirements include an anticipated Government reserve stock of 240,000 metric tonnes to be held by the FRA.

Kazonga said Government will continue to provide input subsidies to farmers to enhance national food security and improve the welfare of the farmers. He said the FRA will soon announce the purchase price of maize for the 2011/2012 marketing season.

The minister said Government will buy all the maize from farmers, and that it is rehabilitating silos and building new storage facilities throughout the country.

Zambia Daily Mail

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