•   Costas Const/los   05 May 08:42

    THE 2015/2016 crop forecasting survey has revealed that the country will record an increased maize harvest, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda has said.

    Mr Lubinda told Parliament in a ministerial statement yesterday that the forecast indicated an output of 2,873,052 tonnes, an increase of 9.73 percent from the 2,618,221 tonnes produced last year.

    “The national food balance sheet for the 2016/2017 marketing season based on the crop forecasting survey shows that the country has produced sufficient maize for both human consumption and industrial use. “The country also has a maize carry-over stock amounting to 667.524 tonnes as at May 1, 2016,” Mr Lubinda said.

    He said of the carry-over stock, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was holding 360,648 tonnes, the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) 207,771, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) 36,701 while small and medium scale farmers held 38,751 tonnes. Mr Lubinda said when the maize carry-over stock from last season is added to the maize production for the 2015/2016 agricultural season, the total supply of maize available for the 2016/2017 marketing season is 3,540,577 tonnes.

    “For the current population, the food balance sheet shows that the total maize required for human consumption, industrial use and other commitments amounts to 2,887,810 tonnes.

    “The total maize requirements include an anticipated national strategic reserve stock of 500,000 tonnes to be held by FRA and when the total maize requirements are subtracted from the total availability of the crop, the country has recorded a maize surplus of 634,681 tonnes,” he said.

    Mr Lubinda, who reiterated that the country was food secure, also announced anticipated improved yield for other crops including; rice, sweet potatoes, wheat, sorghum and groundnuts while that of millet and tobacco will reduce.