Zambia Suspends Corn Exports While Honoring Existing Contracts

Zambia, which is expecting an increase in corn production this year, has suspended exports of the food staple until the end of September, while allowing for existing contracts to be honored, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda said Tuesday.

The country’s corn crop will increase by almost 10 percent, leading to a surplus of the cereal Zambians mill and mix with water to make a thick porridge called nshima, while neighboring states hit by drought see shrinking harvests that are necessitating imports. Lubinda’s announcement may dash the hopes of countries, including South Africa, that were eyeing imports from Zambia.

“The export of maize and maize products from the 2015-16 agricultural season is hereby suspended up to the end of September 2016,” Lubinda told lawmakers in Lusaka, using another word for corn. “The Grain Traders Association has existing export commitments of 167,000 tons of maize to neighboring countries. Government has authorized this quantity of maize to be exported.”

Zambia’s state-owned Food Reserve Agency will buy a million metric tons of the country’s forecast 2.87 million tons of production this year at 75 kwacha per 50 kilogram bag, starting as early as June, he said. The price is unchanged from last year. The country, which holds general elections in August, will allow government-to-government and private exports of the crop currently being harvested, said Lubinda.

“This will, however, only be done after securing the country’s maize requirements,” he said.

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