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Zambia’s Wheat Woes: Government Confirms Production Deficit, $70 Million for Imports.

Zambia, a country facing economic challenges with a depreciating currency, finds itself grappling with another setback in its agricultural sector. Despite efforts to boost local production, the government has confirmed a significant deficit in wheat production for the 2022/2023 Agro season. This shortfall necessitates the importation of approximately 110,000 tons of wheat, amounting to a staggering cost of $70 million. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind the deficit, its implications on the economy, and the perspective of local wheat farmers.

The Wheat Production Deficit:

Agriculture Minister Mtolo Phiri recently released the crop focus survey report, highlighting Zambia’s inability to meet its wheat production requirements. The country, heavily reliant on wheat-based products, experiences a surging demand for bread and other confectionary items, especially in urban areas. Regrettably, the report revealed a net deficit of 108,561 metric tonnes of wheat for the 2022/2023 agricultural marketing season.

Financial Implications and Policy Concerns:

The consequences of this production deficit extend beyond the agricultural sector. With international wheat prices averaging at $645 per ton in June 2023, Zambia will have to allocate a substantial budget of $70 million to cover the costs of wheat imports. These financial resources could have been saved with proper planning and effective policy interventions.

Factors Influencing the Deficit:

While the government attributes the deficit to insufficient local production, there are contrasting views among wheat farmers. These farmers assert that the country is, in fact, self-sufficient in wheat production. According to them, the demand for locally grown wheat, which thrives due to suitable seed varieties, is favored by millers and the consumer market. Thus, they question the accuracy of the deficit figures presented by the government.

The Multifaceted Challenges:

The wheat production deficit underscores the broader challenges faced by the Zambian agricultural sector. The nation’s over-reliance on copper mining for export earnings leaves the economy vulnerable to fluctuations in global commodity prices. The failure to negotiate with multinational mining companies to retain a significant portion of export proceeds within the country adds to the pressure on the Kwacha.


As Zambia grapples with a wheat production deficit, the government faces the daunting task of importing 110,000 tons of wheat, amounting to a considerable expense of $70 million. The implications of this deficit on the economy, combined with the ongoing challenges in the agricultural sector, highlight the pressing need for sustainable policies and interventions. Moving forward, it is crucial to address these issues holistically, fostering domestic agricultural growth, reducing reliance on imports, and ensuring food security for the nation.

In the above article, information and quotes were sourced from Zambia Business Times’s article titled “Gvt announces wheat deficit, $70 million to be spent on imports”.

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