Thursday, August 01, 2013

FAO urges African govts to stop food export bans
By Gift Chanda
Wed 17 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE United Nation's food agency has urged Zambia and other African governments in sub-Saharan region to stop imposing export bans on food commodities.

Zambia, which has moved from being a maize importer to exporter after output rose to more than 2.5 million tonnes from about 600,000 tonnes just over a decade ago, has currently placed a ban on the "free export" of maize to other countries due to a drop in production.

Maize output this year fell 11 per cent to 2.5 million tonnes from 2.85 million tonnes in the previous season after poor weather and a worm infestation impacted on yields.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) country representative for Zambia George Okech said governments should not be quick to implement export bans on food commodities because they were weighing hard on those countries that were in no position to feed their people.

"As FAO, we are trying to advise governments not to panic and place export bans on food commodities when ever prices go up because when you place export bans in your country, it will affect the other country and it will go ahead and affect the other next country," Okech said in an interview.

"…the borders should be opened, there should be free trade. If governments can adopt that policy of not imposing export bans, then the sub-Saharan region will be in a better position to feed itself."

Last year, Zambia eased a supply crunch in southern Africa with its robust maize stocks.
The country exported grain to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana, Burundi and Namibia.

FAO advised Zambia, which cut a subsidy on fertiliser to 50 per cent from 75 per cent, to promote conservation farming if the country was to avoid dashing its goal of becoming a regional breadbasket.

Meanwhile, FAO on Monday handed over equipment worth K690, 000 to the ZNFU to assist the farmers' union take the lead in improving productivity among small-scale farmers.

The equipment would assist small-scale farmers preserve the environment through mechanised conservation agriculture.

Okech, who handed over the equipment to Zambian National Farmers' Union executive director Ndambo Ndambo, said conservation agriculture makes efficient use of farming inputs and significantly increases yields.

"It provides for better resilience against drought and prevents soil erosion."
The equipment comprised 12 sets of tractors, no-till planters, trailers, shellers and sprayers as well as a pickup truck.

And Ndambo said the support would enable the establishment of a nucleus of small-scale farmers that were able to provide a range of mechanised agriculture services.

"This leads to improved incomes for the service providers and more efficient production for client farmers. So it's a win-win situation for all," said Ndambo.

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