THE Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) has said its members are ready to export more than 300,000 tonnes of mealie meal to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) once the Government puts in place modalities for exports.
MAZ chairperson Allan Sakala said in an interview yesterday that the millers were now in a position to satisfy the country's mealie meal consumption requirements and export the surplus.
Mr Sakala said the country's consumption was 80,000 tonnes of mealie meal per month while the strategic food reserve had more than one million tonnes of maize in stock.
"There is room for millers to export more than 300,000 metric tonnes of mealie meal to the DRC because there is surplus maize which can be exported to the DRC after value addition by milling companies," he said.
Mr Sakala said the millers were eager to start exporting mealie meal and other associated products to the DRC which offers a huge market for Zambian-manufactured goods.
"As millers this is the first time we are getting a clear signal from the Government as far as mealie meal exports to the DRC are concerned," he said.
Mr Sakala observed that in the past the Government used to allow exports which were in most cases banned without any explanations.
He said the millers were now happy because there was a clear message from the Government on the need to add value before taking advantage of the DRC export market.
The millers are determined to take advantage of the Government's calls for the need to formalise trade between Zambia and the DRC by exporting mealie meal and other associated products such as flour, wheat and maize bran instead of raw maize.
Mr Sakala said there were a lot of clear indicators suggesting that the country was not likely to face mealie meal shortages which historically occurred annually between October and January because the Food Reserve Agency had moved into the market and put in place measures to address the situation.
Agriculture Minister Emmanuel Chenda recently said the Government was planning to put in place measures which would formalise trade in mealie meal and other associated products to curb the current smuggling into DRC.
Mr Chenda said there was a drastic rise in the demand for maize and mealie meal in the DRC after South Africa stopped exporting the two commodities to that country.