Corn Tops Zam­bia’s 2017 an­nual ex­ports rev­enues at ZMW1.4bil­lion, largest for­eign ex­change earner

Zambian Business Times - - AGRO COMMODITIES -

Corn ex­ports for Zam­bia for the year ended De­cem­ber 2017 reached K1,371mil­lion (about US$140mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Zam­bian Busi­ness Times Com­modi­ties desk. Maize ex­ports en­joyed stronger num­bers in March and April last year with monthly corn ex­ports of US$23mil­lion and US$26 mil­lion re­spec­tively. The other surge in ex­ports in corn was recorded in Q3: 2017, post the lift­ing of the maize ex­port ban from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber. Ex­port earn­ings ranged from US$11mil­lion to about US$17mil­lion on a monthly ba­sis.

The in­sights into anal­y­sis of Zam­bia’s to­tal agro ex­port earn­ings from Jan­uary to De­cem­ber 2017 re­vealed that maize/corn earned the coun­try the largest for­eign ex­change, sec­onded by cane and beet sugar while to­bacco was the third largest earner fol­lowed by soya beans and cake. Cot­ton was the fifth largest earner.

Maize is now of­fi­cially the coun­try’s big­gest ex­port cash crop and be­ing the na­tion’s sta­ple crop, is be­ing grown in bulk to cater for both food se­cu­rity and ex­port re­quire­ments.

The best part of the corn pro­duc­tion story in Zam­bia is that it is not de­pen­dent on a few large farm­ers or re­gions, but is grown across a well - di­ver­si­fied spec­trum and across small, medium to large com­mer­cial farm­ers. It is one crop that is even grown in back­yards by city dwellers, mostly owing to the crop be­ing a big part of the coun­try’s long en­trenched tra­di­tional food cul­ture.

The Zam­bia Na­tional farm­ers Union - ZNFU and the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture an­nounced a bumper har­vest for the 2016/2017 sea­son of 3.6mil­lion met­ric tonnes up from the 2016 har­vest of about 2.8mil­lion met­ric tonnes.

The coun­try’s lo­cal con­sump­tion for both hu­man and in­dus­trial use is es­ti­mated at about 2mil­lion met­ric tonnes leav­ing the ex­cess of 1.6mil­lion met­ric tonnes for ex­port pur­poses. Some of the big play­ers in the corn com­mod­ity busi­ness in­clude CHC com­modi­ties, Af­gri Cor­po­ra­tion, Se­aboards lo­cal unit and Na­tional Milling Com­pany to men­tion but a few.

Zam­bia en­joys avail­abil­ity of un­tapped fer­tile and arable land that can be uti­lized to dou­ble and make the maize ex­ports earn the coun­try over US$1bil­lion in ex­port earn­ings alone. Suf­fice to say Zam­bia has the po­ten­tial to be Africa’s bread bas­ket. The coun­try is landlinked and sur­rounded by (8) neigh­bour­ing coun­tries with the East and Cen­tral African block pro­vid­ing a ready and rel­a­tively shorter dis­tance mar­ket.

The small and medium scale farmer’s pro­duc­tiv­ity of corn per acre re­mains a chal­lenge, but ef­forts to im­prove in­put qual­ity such as cer­ti­fied and adapted seeds as well as spe­cially de­vel­oped fer­til­iz­ers re­main the key to un­lock­ing bet­ter corn out­put.

Maize silo’s in Zam­bia’s Mkushi farm­ing block. Corn was Zam­bia’s 2017 largest agro ex­port earner ac­count­ing for ZMW1.4bil­lion in rev­enues.

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