The government is forbidding the export of maize and mealie meal in an effort to alleviate shortages of the food that have been reported in several areas of the nation.
At a briefing yesterday, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Jack Mwiimbu stated that exports would only be permitted once there was a surplus of stable food.
“We are going to allow exports if there is surplus, but currently, there is no surplus in the country, as a result, we are not giving any export permits to anyone to export maize out of the country,” Mr Mwiimbu said during a joint press briefing with his Defence counterpart Ambrose Lufuma.
Mr. Mwiimbu further disclosed that certain farmers in the Northern Circuit and other border regions are telling foreign buyers that the government will not recognize such transactions before selling their maize fields to them.
He said that the Farmer Input Support Program benefited from some of the corn farms being sold.
“It has been brought to our attention that farmers in the Northern Circuit and other border areas are selling their fields of maize to foreigners before they harvest, it therefore means that there will be no harvest that will be made available locally, we are appealing to the Zambia farmers to be patriotic and not sale their unharvested maize to foreigners,” the minister said.
Mr Mwiimbu called on the farmers to be patriotic and not sale their unharvested maize to foreigners especially that there is currently no exports being issued.
“If anyone has sold their unharvested maize to foreigners, they’re doing so at their own peril. For anyone to export maize or mealie meal, they need to have an export permit and considering that we have not given any permit to those farmers to sell to outsiders,” Mr Mwiimbu said.
He added that paramilitary officers had been sent to work with other law enforcement to stop the smuggling of mealie meal.
Earlier, Mr. Lufuma said that the government had intensified measures to address the shortfall and smuggling of mealie meal.
He claimed that among the eight steps is a request that more mealie meal be sent to the Copperbelt, the Northern Circuit, and any other places in need by the Zambia National Service and the Zambia Correctional Service.
Additionally, the government will step up security and defense wing patrols to stop unlawful exportation.
Yesterday, Ambrose Lufuma, the minister of defense, and Jack Mwiimbu, the minister of home affairs and internal security, jointly briefed the media on the interventions.
The smuggling of mealie meal into some of the neighboring countries has persisted, he claimed, despite measures to secure maize grain across the nation.
“This does not only amount to economic sabotage but also compromises Zambia’s food security. Food security is national security, anyone tampering with our food security is tampering with our national security,” Mr Lufuma said.
He also said Government will also conduct an audit to ascertain the available maize stocks in the country.
The minister also said government will import mealie meal from South Africa but the same will is meant for exportation and not consumption.