The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism issued licences to 53 companies to import maize from January to September this year, but Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda says only State grain trader, the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), was mandated to import maize.
Minister of Trade and Industry Joseph Mwanamvekha said in an interview yesterday that his ministry issued licences to all companies that were recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture to be given licences.
“We do not issue licences without recommendation from the Ministry of Agriculture [Irrigation and Water Development] and this time around there was no restriction by government as to who to import the maize because the commodity is needed in the country,” said Mwanamvekha.
“So we gave a licence to everybody who applied for it,” he added.
A list of companies we have seen shows that 53 companies were issued licences from January to September this year. Except a few, the majority of the companies were given licences to import maize from Zambia. The list shows that other companies were given licences to buy maize from Tanzania, Mexico and Russia.
Alinane Trading was given a licence to import 200 000 metric tonnes whereas Admarc was given a licence to procure 150 000 metric tonnes. Another firm, Energy Integrated, was also given a licence to import 150 000 metric tonnes from Zambia.
According to their names, some companies given licences were motor vehicle spare parts and hardware dealers.
However, at press conference, Minister of Agricuture George Chaponda said government knows Admarc as the only company mandated to procure maize from Zambia.
Chaponda said no other company has supplied maize from outside the country apart from Admarc.
Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe on Wedenesday said no company that was given a licence has supplied maize to his organisation.
He said companies that were licensed to import maize were on an assumption that they would get orders from Admarc.
“With stringent measures that government has put in place, Admarc is procuring the maize on its own to avoid costs that may occur if they are contracting other companies,” said Mulumbe.
Auction Holdings Commodity Exchange (AHCX) confirmed in an interview to have been one of the companies licensed to import maize.
AHCX public relations manager Thom Khanje said they are ready to procure maize from any other country if given an order.
Another organisaton that got a licence, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said the maize it was asked to import has already started arriving in the country.
WFP communications officer Philip Pemba said yesterday that his organisation has imported maize from Zambia, Mexico and South Africa as per the import licence they were given by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.