Social and agriculture experts have cautioned the government on what they call a hasty decision to lift the maize export ban prior to assessing the national food requirement.
This, they say, could be a recipe for creating food shortage in the country.
Last week, the government announced that the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation and seven other private companies had obtained licences to export 116, 440 metric tonnes of maize.
Speaking recently, Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) Executive Director James Ngahy cautioned the government against being enticed with exploits of monetary gains from maize exports at the expense of national food needs.
He also described the decision by the government to commercialise maize as tricky.
“How are we going to be assured that our national reserves will not be exported? If there will be mega farms to produce such maize for export, then we do not have a problem but relying on production from small-scale farmers will create problems ahead,” he said.
In a separate interview, local agriculturist Tamani Nkhono Mvula said called on the government to consider addressing lapses in the agriculture sector.
He recommended that institutional frameworks that guide maize production should be revised to facilitate smooth production and marketing.
“Removing risks such as export ban will assure producers and financiers of investment returns,” he said.
Director at the Ministry of Trade Clement Kumbemba said the green light on maize export is in line with the anticipated bumper harvest this year.
He said the government wants to take advantage of existing maize markets in some African countries, which provide an opportunity for the country to reap economic benefits from the staple grain.
“It is a government plan to allow citizens, companies and large commercial farmers to start producing maize commercially for export purposes,” he said.
Recently, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Lobin Lowe stated that the country expects to harvest four million metric tonnes of maize, surpassing the needed amount for consumption.