Caritas Zambia Highlights “priorities” to Address, Prevent Recurrence of Maize Shortage

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Officials of Caritas Zambia have highlighted “short-term, medium-term and long-term priorities” to not only address but also prevent the recurrence of maize shortage, and ensure “sustained food and nutrition security” in the Southern African nation. 

Zambia is experiencing a maize shortage, which has affected the production of maize flour, mealie meal, used to make the country’s staple food.

In a Tuesday, April 18 statement, Caritas Zambia's Livelihoods and Climate Change Programme Officer says the entity has noted "with grave concern" reports of mealie meal shortage "as it has an impact on the country's food security." 

“To address the mealie meal shortage, prevent recurrence of this situation as well as ensure sustained food and nutrition security in the country, we reiterate our call on government to address the following short-term, medium-term and long-term priorities,” Eugene Ng’andu says.

In the short-term, Mr. Ng’andu says that the government needs to control illegal exportation of mealie meal. 


He adds that the shortage of maize flour “should not be an avenue to import mealie meal which may contain GMO's.” 

The official of the development and humanitarian arm of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) also calls on the government to update the people on the current levels of the maize grain. 

He says that the update will need to address “issues of anxiety and panic buying among citizens and help stabilise the current shortage.”

In the long-term, Mr. Ng’andu says government, through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), “should ensure to purchase and store sufficient quantities of stock in order to replenish the country's strategic grain reserve.”

Ensuring there is enough maize stock in the nation “will assure food security in times of food stress as well as other sorts of calamities that create volatility in prices and availability,” he says.

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He adds that in the ongoing harvesting period, “government must ensure that the interests of smallholder farmers are protected from briefcase buyers.”

“As such, government should consider revising upwards the maize floor price for the year 2023 to at least K250 per 50Kg bag,” he says.

In the April 18 statement, Mr. Ng'andu goes on express concern about the decreasing food production in the country.

He cites the 2022 Crop Forecast Survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, and says, "Maize production for the 2021/2022 production season reduced from 3,620,244 Metric Tonnes (MT) in 2020/2021 to 2,706,243 MT in 2021/2022."

"This continued decline poses a huge threat on the country's food and nutrition security," the Caritas official says.


He attributes the decreasing food production to high cost of farming inputs, effects of climate change and unsustainable farming practices.

Mr. Ng'andu says, "Intensifying efforts related to improving soil health and fertility, climate change adaptation and resilient food systems" is important in addressing the food production issues.

He adds that Zambia’s government needs to "immediately put into place mechanisms and strategies that will quickly assist smallholder farmers in adapting to the impacts of climate change and strengthening climate-resilient agricultural practices in time for the 2023/2024 farming season."

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.