By JAMES KUNDA –
MEALIE-MEAL prices in the country are expected to remain above K65 despite Government offloading additional stocks of maize to millers for increased production.
According to Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) president Allan Sakala, the prices of mealie-meal are expected to be around K68 per 25 kilogramme bag, owing to the cost of maize per tonne.
Mr Sakala said despite the Government releasing additional 50,000 tonnes of maize to the milling companies through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), millers were purchasing maize at a high price of K1,700 per tonne.
“The price of mealie meal may not be determined on the availability of additional stock of maize released onto the market by the FRA, because there has been no reduction in the unit cost per tonne.
“Millers are still buying the maize at a higher cost and coupled with other production costs, we recommend that mealie-meal must be sold at a stable price of a at least K68,” Mr Sakala said.
He said consumers should not expect mealie-meal prices to exceed K68 and those traders who would be charging the commodity at K70 and beyond, would merely be exploiting customers.
In a separate interview, Agriculture and Livestock Deputy Minister Greyford Monde reiterated that the FRA has started distributing additional maize stocks to selected millers across the country.
He said Government provided 50,000 tonnes of additional maize stocks to millers and as such, expected that the price of mealie meal would stabilise.
“Our argument as Government is that even after engaging the millers to bring down the price of mealie meal, there has been no action to cushion the price of the commodity.
“So we have made additional stocks of maize available and our appeal is that millers reduce the price of mealie meal,” Mr Monde said in Ndola yesterday.
He said the Government would continue to monitor the availability of maize stocks for among millers to cushion any shortages before the harvest season in April, 2014.