Zambia will export 100,000 of maize to three east African states facing a shortage, with the bulk of the grain going to Kenya, a government official said on Monday.

In June, Zambia opened talks with Kenyan grain traders for the export of maize to east Africa’s biggest economy, which is looking to import maize to plug a deficit.

“We selected 24 companies, including three foreign and 21 local firms to handle the exports and they will sign the contracts this week,” Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa told Reuters on the side-lines of an investment meeting.

“They will buy the maize from the Fuel Retailer Association (FRA) and mostly export to Kenya but some of it will go to Tanzania and Burundi,” Shawa said, referring to Zambia’s state-run Food Reserve Agency.

He did not say how much each of the countries would receive.

Zambia this year produced about 3.6 million tons of maize and had a surplus of 1.4 million tons which was available for export, Mutati said.

Malawi’s former agriculture minister, George Chaponda, was arrested on July 19 and faces graft charges over a procurement contract with neighbouring Zambia, his lawyer and the country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau said.

It is the latest governance scandal to hit the impoverished southern African nation, which suffers periodic food shortages and relies heavily on donor aid.

Malawi President Peter Mutharika in January ordered an investigation into a $34.5 million government maize order, after a Zambian opposition leader said he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per tonne for 100,000 tons of Zambian white maize worth $215 a tonne.

Chaponda’s lawyer, Jai Bandam confirmed the arrest in a telephone interview with Reuters. He could not say when his client would be taken to court.

Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau said in a statement that it’s “investigation had established that there were offences committed in the procurement of maize from Zambia.”

“Chaponda is likely to be charged with corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency contrary to” exchange control regulations, it said.

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