ZAMBIA has realised K1.9 trillion from maize exports as of September this year, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Emmanuel Chenda has told Parliament.
Mr Chenda also informed the House that Government was aware of the existence of counterfeit fertiliser on the market.
The Government is thus intent on establishing laboratory inspectorate at district and provincial levels to check on agro-dealers.
Mr Chenda said this in Parliament on Thursday evening when he presented a policy statement to lobby the House's approval of K1.75 trillion allocation to his ministry.
The minister said with the increased maize production and the prevailing maize deficit in the region, the country recorded increased exports of maize grain and maize products.
He said more than 650,000 tonnes of maize were exported to various countries in the region.
Mr Chenda assured that the country was food secure through the purchase of one million tonnes of maize costing K2.4 trillion.
"During the 2012/2013 farming season, Zambia was among two other countries in the region that produced a surplus of maize grain while the rest of the countries had maize deficits.
"The Food Reserve Agency has procured 1,042,813 tonnes of maize. Up to K2.4 trillion was spent on the purchase of strategic food reserves during 2012," Mr Chenda said.
He said contracts worth K826 billion under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) were awarded in September this year for the supply of 183,634 tonnes of fertiliser and a variety of seed namely maize, cotton, rice seed, groundnut and sorghum.
In total, FISP had targeted to assist 900,000 small-scale farmers.
Mr Chenda said in 2013, his ministry would prioritise crop production, productivity improvement and diversification through the scaling up of extension services.
The other target areas would be livestock development, disease control and surveillance, fisheries development, and agri-business and marketing.
On FISP, the minister said this had also experienced hurdles which included poor targeting of beneficiary farmers and high administrative costs.
"I wish to state that investing in agriculture as a strategy for job creation and poverty reduction will continue because of the importance that the sector plays in our country," Mr Chenda said.