GOVERNMENT been challenged to explain the escalating mealie meal prices attributed to a shortage of maize at Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
CARITAS Zambia Executive Director Sam Mulafulafu said government must urgently explain the maize shortage in the country.
Mr. Mulafulafu said that government had a responsibility to explain to the nation the shortage of the commodity after the country had in the past three or four years recorded bumper harvests.
Mr. Mulafulafu said that it was shocking to hear that there was a shortage when there were also reports of uncollected maize rotting.
“They (government) should explain the shortage, it is clear that for the past seasons we have had bumper harvest. To date we are receiving information that there is uncollected maize which is rotting. So it will be in the best interest of the nation for the Minister of Agriculture to explain why we have these shortages at the Food Reserve Agency (FRA),”said Mr. Mulafulafu.
He said the exportation of maize without considering the demand of local consumption had a negative implication, adding that it was high time government acted responsibly by clearing the situation.
Mr. Mulafulafu observed that it was not correct for FRA to suggest that millers should join buying maize on the open market if the country had maize.
He said that the shortage of the commodity has led to the increase in mealie meal prices which was unacceptable.
“It is incorrect for the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to ask millers to buy on the market at almost the same price they (FRA) are buying and selling if they had maize in those sheds. That is why we are saying that somebody at FRA should be held responsible for this crisis and the way they have handled the marketing season,” said Mr. Mulafulafu.
He reminded the Ministry of Agriculture that maize was the staple food for the nation and therefore a proper and researched response was needed to the state of affairs.
And UPND Kalomo Central Member of Parliament Request Muntanga accused government of not planning in the manner they wanted to run the agriculture sector.
He said under the PF government it was possible that the country would not have maize because of lack of visionary policy direction on various issues.
Mr. Muntanga said if government failed to address the problem of maize shortage in the nation, there was a possibility of instability in both the economic and political status of the country.
He claimed that over US$ 2.3 million was raised from the exports of subsidized maize to neighbouring countries likeZimbabweand the Republic of the Democratic of Congo.
“Maize worth US$2.3 million was move out of the country leading to the shortage of the commodity. Investigate FRA ask them who is supplying FRA bags on the market. The bags are being found on the black market.”