Zambian Maize Staple Food }

Zambian Maize: The Versatile Zambian Staple Food

Zambian Maize is eaten in many ways, like 'Nshima', which is prepared using maize powder. Maize (corn) is the staple food for most Zambians. The local cuisine revolves around nshima.

Note that Nshima is cooked all over Africa but with different names, Sadza (South Africa), Fufu (Nigeria and parts of West Africa).

Zambian Maize Field
Maize Field

For breakfast, nshima is usually served thin and sometimes with sugar. For lunch and dinner, the consistency is thicker (like mashed potato) and it is eaten with a tasty relish of meat, fish or vegetables.

In rural areas, in the absence of a hammer mill, maize is manually ground into flour.

Other local dishes include ifisashi (green vegetables in peanut sauce) and samp (a crushed maize and bean dish).

An average Zambian doesn't eat a more 'varied' diet, what varies mostly is the type of side dish to go with nshima. The local cuisine revolves around nshima.

Maize is now the nation's most important farm product and principal food. Nshima is the people's favorite dish.

To give you an idea of how big an item Zambian maize is to the Zambians, let’s go back to June 1989, when the then Zambian government had decontrolled prices of all products except maize meal, the staple food. But a year later, in June 1990, government subsidies for maize meal were terminated.

The move doubled the price of maize meal and the move led to a week of rioting. There were protests over the food price increases especially in the capital Lusaka.

Current Maize Production

Many square kilometers of forest are cleared each year to create arable acreage. But currently, only about 5 percent of Zambian land is currently cultivated, and farmers are unable to grow enough to feed the rapidly growing population. Most crops are planted in the warm months of November and December.

The shortfall has given private companies like Zambeef to enter the market. Zambeef has now become the single largest cropping operation in sub-Saharan Africa with 5,000 hectares under irrigation to produce 60,000 metric tones of Maize grain per annum.

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