ZAMBIA has reportedly started exporting grain to Zimbabwe, which is facing serious food shortages following a drought that hit some parts of the country last season.
According to the state-owned newspaper The Herald, the southern African country had so far received up to 1, 800 tonnes of maize from Zambia.
Agriculture, Mechanism and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said another 1, 300 tons were expected.
The country needs at least 700, 000 tonnes of maize to avert the crisis.
Logistical problems were reported to be a challenge, with the Zambia Grain Traders Association saying it could only export 40 000 tonnes of grain to Zimbabwe per month.
“We are only able to export 40, 000 tonnes of grain to Zimbabwe per month due to logistical problems,
“The process becomes long, but if the borders could operate for 24 hours we could push more volumes,” the association’s executive director, Jacob Mwale, was quoted as saying.
A NewZimbabwe.com report quoted the country’s deputy agriculture minister Paddy Zhanda as saying that Zimbabwe risked serious food shortages if the government failed to procure grain from neighbouring countries.
Mr Zhanda, according to the report, told delegates at a national food conference in the capital that the country was in dire need of grain, adding that anyone was free to import maize from anywhere, as long as the country’s food safety and standards were met.
Zimbabwe produced only 800, 000 tonnes of maize last season.