By JAMES KUNDA -
THE Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) has urged Government to review the pricing mechanism for locally grown maize so that retailers do not exploit consumers by hiking the cost of mealie-meal.
ZACA executive director Muyunda Illilonga said in Ndola that, as a long-term measure to cushion the escalating cost of mealie meal, Government should strengthen structures that define the price at which maize is sold to millers.
Currently, millers are buying a tonne of maize at K1, 700 from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) along the line of rail and K1, 600 per tonne elsewhere.
“Mealie meal prices will continue to escalate because maize pricing structures in Zambia only favour commercial millers who dictated prices of the commodity liberally,” he said.
Mr Illilonga said the association supports Government’s decision to halt the export of mealie -meal as the move will stabilise the cost of the commodity.
“We fully back the move by Government as it has come with the realisation that new maize stocks are yet to enter the market.
“Government’s intervention will ensure that the domestic market has sufficient mealie- meal to ensure national food security in light of the inadequate stocks,” he said.
Mr Illilonga said the recent changes in the price of mealie- meal where a sign of the need for small-scale farmers to be empowered with facilities to add value to their crop produce.
He said the Government and stakeholders in the agriculture sector could support the roll-out of hammer mills across the country to avert intermittent shortages of mealie meal.
Government has banned the export of mealie-meal following escalating prices where the commodity is fetching above K65 per 25kilogramme bag of breakfast and K45 per 25 kilogramme bag of roller meal.
The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has, however, off loaded 50,000 tonnes of maize to registered milling companies in a bid to stabilise the price of mealie meal.