Power and Politics

Govt projects 1,750,000 metric tonnes of maize harvest in two months


The government has made a forecast of about 1,750,000 metric tonnes of maize harvest, which is expected in the market in two months.

Chief Government Spokesperson, Cornelius Mweetwa, said this in Lusaka when he featured on ZNBC Sunday interview.

The Minister said the crops would be harvested from the Copperbelt, Luapula, Northern, Muchinga and part of Central Provinces.

He said these provinces had recorded normal rains.

Mweetwa stressed that there was no need for panic buying of maize and mealie meal because the country was food secure for now.

He stated that presently the country was sitting on 450,000 metric tonnes of maize.

“The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will mop up the locally produced maize in order to allow government money to flow within the local economy,” Mweetwa said

He added that smuggling of maize from the Copperbelt remained a challenge for government, stating that measures were put in place to curb smuggling.

“Yesterday, a Committee of Ministers on Disaster Mitigation under the Vice President’s office met to receive an update on the scale and magnitude of the drought and how it’s affecting the lives of the Zambians,” Mweetwa said.

The Minister acknowledged that Zambia was undergoing the worst crippling drought, now affecting 84 districts out of 116 districts in the country.

Mweetwa noted that a serious threat to the availability and accessibility of safe and clean water for people and livestock may exist in the southern region of the country that had received virtually no rainfall.

“The El Niño phenomenon was anticipated and the country had an early warning system,” he said.

On loadshedding, the Minister said the water levels in the Kariba Dam were lower than the previous year, citing empirical data from the Zambezi River Authority.

Mweetwa noted that last year at this time, water from the Chavuma basin in North-Western province was still enroute to the Kariba dam.

“This implies that even if ZESCO carried on generating the same amount of electricity, they were aware of the water that was on the way to the Kariba dam,” he stated.

Mweetwa said as things stood now, there was no reasonable water anticipated to be flowing into the Kariba dam as indicated by Zambezi River Authority.

Read More: Govt Spokesperson speaks on safeguarding maize stock, urges Zambians not to go into panic mode

He stated that in trying to manage the drought situation, the Authority had allocated eight billion cubic liters of water to ZESCO compared to 16 billion last year .

“The rationale behind the eight hour load shedding is that if ZESCO continues to produce electricity at the normal rate, the water required for hydro power production would have been depleted by September, October,” Mweetwa said.

He indicated the Ministry of Energy would in the next few days engage ZESCO to see how best they can spread the eight hours load shedding time.

The minister confirmed that Zambia exported around 430 megawatt of electricity to the Southern Africa Power Pool, a resource-sharing agreement sought by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

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