Zambia has intercepted 28 trucks each loaded with 1 200 bags of maize worth $270 000 (about K187 million) bound for Malawi at Mwami Border because of lack of export permit.
Zambia maize and flour has flooded Malawi market, following acute maize shortage the country is facing blamed on poor harvests last growing season as a result of the twin problem of floods and dry spells.
Zambia deputy high commissioner Henry Ngilazi, in an e-mail response on Tuesday, confirmed the interception of the trucks, saying some procedures were flouted.
“The trucks did not have export permits and have been at the border for three
weeks now. Our government classified maize as a controlled commodity,
meaning any export of the commodity had to be accompanied by an export
permit that was given by the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.
Ngilazi said the Zambia Government has intensified security on the porous routes along the border with Malawi and Mozambique to curb smuggling of maize and mealie meal.
“A task force has been formed to curb the smuggling of maize. Zambia has outlined a three-point approach of handling food shortage as regards maize should there be any in the country,” said Ngilazi.
According to the envoy, the first would be to buy all the maize being held by the private sector, the second is to authorise production of winter maize while the last is to import the grain from South America.
He, however, said the country has not undertaken option one, but it is just restricting exports as it is verifying the actual amount of grain in stock and that the restriction is being regulated through export permits.
Minister of Industry and Trade Joseph Mwanamvekha, who recently announced that any Malawian is free to import maize and maize flour without a permit, asked said he needed to get more details before commenting.
“There is a need to find out exactly why the trucks have been stopped from entering the country from our counterparts in Zambia before making a comment,” he said.
The decision by the Zambian authorities to tighten the borders has triggered a rise in the price of Zambian maize flour going by over K2 500 in Lilongwe.
Between December 2015 and early January this year, a 25 kilogramme (kg) bag of Zambian flour was selling at K7 500 while local vendors were selling a 50 kg bag of maize at about K15 000. n