PF regime excitedly exporting huge stocks of maize left by MMD

The PF regime is busy exporting maize left by the MMD government in the last farming season.

Agriculture minister Emmanuel Chenda told Reuters that Zambia has robust maize stocks and sees little risk in using them to partly fill a regional gap as a supply crunch looms in southern Africa, pushing up futures prices for the staple and accelerating food inflation.

Chenda said Zambia has huge stocks and selling to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana, Burundi and Namibia.

“We had more than one million tonnes of surplus maize. We decided to export 600,000 tonnes because we didn’t have storage space and so far we have sold 200,000 tonnes,” Chenda told Reuters.

But analysts are concerned about Lusaka’s costly spend on maize purchases from farmers, done via the Food Reserve Agency.

Brian Tembo, an Economics Association of Zambia analyst, said the government was buying the maize at above market prices and selling it at reduced prices. He said this meant the government was effectively using “Treasury funds to subsidise the region.”

Zambia under the MMD government harvested 3 million tonnes of maize in the 2010/11 season, from the 2.8 million tonnes the previous season. Zambia’s maize season runs from October to August.

The big yields have been attributed to government subsidies to peasant farmers in the form of fertilizer and seeds. However, the crop ultimately depends on rain and the agriculture minister has said the 2011/12 season had gotten off to a bad start because of erratic weather.

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