[dropcaps]A[/dropcaps] report released by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) recently revealed that the maize open border policy does not make Zambia food-insecure but instead, will help expand its market for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the economy at large.

In a statement issued by IAPRI, communications specialist, Loisa Kakoma indicates that there are a range of factors holding Zambia back from increasing maize exports, which is undermining the much-needed economic diversification.

The report highlights high transport costs and non-tariff barriers as some of the factors that are holding the country back from increasing maize exports and curtailing Zambia’s ability to be competitive.

It says that despite experiencing a fall in maize production last year, Zambia has emerged as the largest surplus country in the region, surpassing South Africa as the region’s dominant maize exporter.

IAPRI’s research shows that keeping Zambia’s borders open at all times would not risk the country’s food security status but instead, will help the country expand its market for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the economy at large.

[blockquote author=””]“This is because openness to international trade can reduce price volatility and, if properly implemented, can help mitigate supply shocks,” the report says.[/blockquote]

Once requirements for self-sufficiency are met, including setting aside a national reserve of 500 000 metric tonnes, Zambia has an exportable surplus of over 800 000 tonnes. The only other two competing countries in the region are Tanzania and South Africa with a surplus of 487 000 and 300 000 tonnes, respectively.

The current export formalities and infrastructure do not allow for more than 100 000 metric tonnes of maize to be exported from Zambia per month. That, with all factors constant, would take almost eight months to export the maize surplus as of May this year.

“Government should be commended for keeping the borders open as this is likely to stimulate more production from farmers this coming season, and move Zambia towards becoming a regional food basket,” the report says.

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