Zambia lifts maize export ban, has stocks to last until August

Zambia suspended maize exports to curb local shortages pending the verification of available stocks.

Zambia is likely to produce 2.4 million tonnes of maize in the current 2015/2016 crop season. Picture: AFP.

LUSAKA - Zambia on Wednesday lifted the ban it imposed last week on the export of maize after a physical verification revealed that the southern African nation has enough stocks to last until August, a government official said.

Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa said in a statement the country has 600,433 tonnes of maize enough to last the country until August.

"The ban on maize exports with proper documentation has been lifted," Shawa said.

"We are aware that some of the grain traders have contractual obligations but we need to make sure that we verify that the grain they are exporting is theirs."

Zambia suspended maize exports to curb local shortages pending the verification of available stocks. The government was concerned that steep price increases were being caused by smuggling of the grain to neighbouring Malawi and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Zambia is likely to produce 2.4 million tonnes of maize in the current 2015/2016 crop season, down from 2.6 million tonnes the previous season, due to drought.

The weather has hit the maize crop across the region, including in Zimbabwe and in South Africa, the continent's biggest producer of the staple grain, a situation that has fueled food price increases and inflation.