THE Government has given millers a one week ultimatum to ensure that there is sufficient maize bran to cater for Zambia's stockfeed requirements or the export of the commodity will be revoked.
Agriculture Deputy Minister Rodgers Mwewa said yesterday that the Government met with representatives of the millers last Friday, where concerns of reports of shortages of maize bran were raised and Agriculture Minister Emmanuel Chenda directed the millers to prove that they were able to satisfy the local market failure to which the Government would issue an export ban.
Mr Mwewa said the Government wanted to see to it that the country did not experience any shortages of maize bran which is used to manufacture stock feed while the millers' were busy exporting the same commodity.
"During the meeting the millers association pledged to place advertisements in the local media announcing that they have sufficient stocks of maize bran and should assist farmers with details to avert any shortages of maize bran," he said.
Mr Mwewa said he had spoken to some millers who assured him that they were boosting their maize bran production.
The deputy minister said he would this week start conducting an on the sport check on milling companies in Lusaka and the Copperebelt as a way of confirming if the millers were indeed committed to adhering to the measures they agreed to put in place to avert maize bran shortages in Zambia.
This follows numerous complaints from some farmers on the Copperbelt who had been experiencing a shortage of stock feed because most millers were now concentrating on manufacturing maize bran for the export market which was more lucratctive than selling locally.
Former Zambia Dairy Farmers Association chairperson Effatah Jele said the shortage of maize bran on the market was negatively affecting milk production in the country.
Ms Jele said the scarcity of maize bran has also contributed to the high prices of cotton cake making the cost of milk production in the country one of the highest in the region.
She said the farming community had already communicated with the Ministry of Agriculture asking the Government to consider suspending maize bran export.
"We are aware that the Government is doing something to address the situation and we want the authority to expedite their approach to the issue," she said.
Ms Jele said the cost of milk production in Zambia was one of the most expensive in the region and she thanked Government for protecting the local milk industry from imported cheap product.
In September, Mr Chenda announced the lifting of the ban on maize bran exports which he said was being done because the country had sufficient maize and wheat stocks.