March 10, 2016 / 1:07 PM / 3 years ago

Zambia's 2016 maize harvest seen lower due to poor rainfall

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia is likely to produce 2.4 million tonnes of maize in the current 2015/2016 crop season, down from 2.6 million tonnes the previous season due to drought, its minister of agriculture said on Thursday.

Given Lubinda said poor rainfall in some parts of the southern African nation at the start of the 2015/2016 season had led to poor crop.

“This year we anticipate to produce slightly above 2.4 million tonnes of maize. This maize should be ready in about one and half months,” Lubinda told a media briefing.

Zambia had more than 590,000 tonnes of maize available for domestic consumption, which was sufficient to take the country until August, he said.

Lubinda said grain traders were holding 227,245 tonnes of maize which they would be allowed to export because Zambia expected this year’s harvest in slightly over one month.

“Traders will be allowed to export but they need to seek our authority before exporting the maize,” Lubinda said.

The government sold 750,368 tonnes of maize to selected millers at a subsidised price of about $170 per tonne to keep local maize meal prices affordable, he said.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia

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