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Low maize prices frustrate exporters

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Mayeso Msokera

Plans by the government and local grain traders to clear maize stocks through export markets could be frustrated by low prices the grain is attracting within the region, The Daily Times has established.

This has also been reflected by reduced number of traders seeking maize export licences from the Ministry of Trade.

It has transpired that, since commencement of issuance of the licences on March 15 2021, the ministry has issued permits with a total tonnage of about 126,000 metric tonnes (mt), out of the targeted 356,742 mt of excess maize.

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Snapchecks on maize prices in regional markets reveal that the commodity is fetching higher prices locally than in some countries.

Recently, the government ordered the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corperation to be selling the commodity at K150 per kilogramme (kg) or K7, 500 per 50 kg bag.

However, in Zambia the same quantity is fetching ZK120 an equivalent of K4, 500. In Rwanda, a kg of the commodity is being sold at $0.11 or K4,125 for a 50kg bag.

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In an interview yesterday, Grain Traders and Producers Association (GTPA) President Grace Mijiga Mhango said enthusiasm about maize exports had died down because of prices in foreign markets.

“The Zimbabwe market has become a speculative market. We had definite off-takers but prices have dropped because Zambia also issued permits a week after.

“Secondly, most of the buyers are not coming clear on payment module; as such, traders do not want to take a risk of non-payment,” Mhango said.

She said the traders are exploring Kenya and Rwanda as potential alternative markets, but logistical bottlenecks could be the limiting factor.

Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera confirmed the development, saying the ministry issued licences for the exportation of about 96,440 mt of maize within the first two weeks.

“Applications are still being accepted. However, the ministry will announce the cut-off date for receiving applications by next week,” Msokera said.

The government announced to have temporarily lifted the maize export ban, which had been in place since February 2018 to help stabilise national grain supplies.

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