By SILUMESI MALUMO
GOVERNMENT needs to lift the export ban on maize as this will help the country to earn more foreign exchange to stabilise the Kwacha, former Minister of Finance Katele Kalumba has said.
Dr Kalumba said before Government lifts the ban it can first evaluate the grain market and see how best it can be done.
He said in an interview yesterday, assessing the market was cardinal so that Government can identify the best market where the commodity can be exported.
“What should be done is that we can undertake an assessment to see how the market is behaving, to see what has been produced elsewhere and see who will be the best buyer.
We have people who are knowledgeable on market analysis who can be engaged by Government and they can give rich information which can be very useful when the ban is lifted,” Dr Kalumba said.
He said even when the export ban was lifted not all the maize would be exported but would ensure that enough would be kept for domestic use.
Dr Kalumba said, “We have surplus maize, part of it can be exported so that we beef up our Kwacha which has continued to depreciate.
Agriculture performed well in 2019-2020 and we can capitalise on that so that we try to improve our economy. This happened between 1987 and 1988 when agriculture performed well most of the produces were exported, enough foreign exchange was earned and it helped in boosting the Kwacha,” Dr Kalumba said.
Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo announced that the country recorded 3, 387, 469 metric tonnes of maize in 2019-2020 agriculture season compared to 2, 004, 389 metric tonnes in 2018-2019 agriculture season.
Mr Katambo said from 3,387, 469 metric tonnes about 409, 000 metric tonnes was for industrial requirements and 210, 000 metric tonnes was the surplus.
Meanwhile, Dr Kalumba however said there was need to come up with a long term solution to ensure that the currency stabilised.
He said there was need to improve in production for the country to continue exporting and stop the dependence on imports.
Dr Kalumba said “we need to put our minds together, engage think-tanks and come up with packages that are critical in beefing up our currency.”
He said the government had no monopoly of knowledge, and needed help from various stakeholders.