Zambia has reportedly recorded an increase of maize harvest from the 2,004,389 metric tonnes produced last season to 3,387,469 this season.

The harvest represents an increase of 69 percent.

Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo said since the country had a maize carry-over stock amounting to 179,247 metric tonnes as at May 1, the total supply of maize available for the 2020/2021 marketing season was now 3,566,716 metric tonnes.

“If you take into account that traditionally, the Food Reserve Agency’s buying target has been 500,000 metric tonnes, the surplus this year would be more than 710,000 metric tonnes,” he said.

“However, as a ministry, this year, we have factored in a purchase target of 1,000,000 metric tonnes for the agency in our cereals balance sheet.”

He said the country was now food secure for the next year, provided smuggling was controlled.

Small and medium scale farmers were expected to contribute up to 93 percent or 3,160,185 metric tonnes of total maize production, while the large scale farmers were expected to produce 227,284 metric tonnes of maize or seven percent of total output.

The Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation reported that the country was considering the temporary suspension of value-added tax on locally produced edible oil.

Commerce Trade and Industry Minister Christopher Yalum told the broadcaster that the government was working to curb smuggling of the commodity into the country to enable the manufacturing sector to compete favourably.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic had presented an opportunity for manufacturers to ramp up their output capacity, which had seen chain stores stock locally produced oil.