Mealie meal shortage is an emergency

The PF government has been urged to address the mealie meal shortages that have characterised most parts of the country with seriousness.
Former high commissioner to India Andrew Banda said it would only be wise if government considered treating the shortages as an emergency.
Mr Banda said it was shocking that the levels of agriculture had sunk to low levels under the PF regime and that it was time government find a solution to this predicament.
He said it was not fair to Zambians that a 25kilogram bag of maize was selling between Kr 60 and Kr 70 in Chipata and that the same bag was selling at more than Kr80 in Lundazi and other areas in the country.
The former high commissioner said that most of the maize in Zambia came from the small scale farmers but wondered why government decided to export the commodity to Malawi, Congo and Tanzania when there were serious shortages in the nation.
He said Eastern province was second in maize production but wondered why the mealie meal was coming from millers such as GBM and Simba milling.
“This problem was caused by government and we ask them to treat this as an emergency because Zambians are suffering. All the reserves were brought to Lusaka and they are now exporting the commodity to Malawi and Tanzania at the expense of Zambians.
“This is all because of the poor agriculture policies of the PF. Why should they take us 20 years backwards when people would queue for the commodity? Why should mealie meal come from Lusaka? ” he asked.
He said it was surprising that Malawi a small country was producing 4miilion tonnes per annum when Zambia last season only produced 2.7million tonnes of maize when it had the capacity to produce more than the current numbers. He said naturally Zambia had 64billion cubic metres of underground water and 45billion cubic metres of surface water, the largest in the region, which government could utilise to come up with irrigation schemes to help small scale farmers.
“During the reign of the MMD, the country was able to produce 3.5million tonnes of maize grain but because of the failed policies of this government the statistics have dropped and Zambians should surely brace themselves for hunger because this year’s produce will be less than 2miilion tonnes.
“Instead of the PF government addressing the shortages of mealie meal affecting the people that put them in office they were busy scheming to remove the immunity of my father.
“My advice to this government is that it should reflect and reverse price controls in order for the market to prevail. It is because of this interference on prices by the government that everything is in a mess in terms of mealie meal.
“Why have they decided to treat Zambians like this? They are contributing to the sufferings of the people by lacking good agriculture policies,” he said.
Mr Banda however saluted Agriculture minister Robert Sichinga for admitting that the distribution of farming inputs was very poor and urged him work hard in order to rectify the problem.