File photo: Reuters

Lusaka - Zambia's maize production rose over 30 percent in the 2013/2014 season from the last annual harvest, booking its biggest volumes of the grain on record, the agriculture minister said on Monday.

Maize output rose to 3.3 million tonnes, from 2.5 million tonnes in the 2012/2013 season, Agriculture Minister Wylbus Simusaa said.

“This is the highest ever maize harvest recorded in Zambia's history and provides us with the opportunity to adequately feed the country and export,” Simusaa told journalists at a briefing.

“We plan to export slightly over 300,000 tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and further up in Kenya.”

The maize planting season in Zambia usually begins with the rains in October or November and harvesting is mostly completed by the end of April or May.

Simusaa said Zambia's maize stocks were currently estimated at 3.9 million tonnes, following a carryover stock of 597,000 tonnes from last year.

The government through the Food Reserve Agency planned to buy 500,000 tonnes of maize from small-scale farmers for strategic reserves, he said.