GOVERNMENT will ensure that the price of mealie meal does not escalate further, Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya has vowed.
Currently the national average price of a 25kg bag of breakfast mealie meal is approximately K90, while roller meal is selling between K65 and K70.
Ms. Siliya told Parliament yesterday that Government was concerned with the increase in mealie meal prices and had since come up with strategies in both the maize and mealie meal value chain.
Ms. Siliya also disclosed that Government intended to increase community sales of maize through the Food Reserve Agency in conjunction with the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit in the office of the Vice President, to ensure that needy communities and households did not go hungry.
Ms. Siliya said Government would increase maize sales to solar milling plants established across the country under the Zambia Cooperatives Federation.
She further indicated that special allocations would also be provided by the FRA to education and health institutions as well as the Zambia Correctional Services and many others as needed.
“Embarking on these strategies will entail making tough decisions. We have taken into consideration the impact of these strategies on the well-being of the poor and vulnerable communities and households in the country, and we have also considered measures to safeguard them,” she said.
However, Ms. Siliya observed that the increase in mealie meal prices between November and April was a normal phenomenon due to increased demand for the commodity.
“The increased demand for mealie meal during this period is due to the fact that maize stocks held by most households declined and the affected households increasingly rely on purchasing mealie meal from the open market, “she said. Ms. Siliya told the House that despite the current increase in prices of mealie meal locally, the cost still remained much lower compared to other countries in the region.
“For example in the first week of November, the prices of mealie meal and maize in the region were as follows: in South Africa K25kg bag is going at K140, in Mozambique K185, in Kenya K125, in Malawi K160 and in Zimbabwe K170,” Ms. Siliya explained.