National Milling Company has attributed the short-term shortage of mealie meal in Livingstone to local and Zimbabwean traders that are buying the commodity in bulk and transporting it into Zimbabwe for sell at inflated prices.
National Milling Corporation Managing Director Peter Cotton today explained that fifty percent of the people buying mealie meal were retail traders who are purchasing 25 Kilogram bags of maize in bulk without regard for other consumers, adding that this has necessitated the government and the corporation to intervene and put measures in place to restrict sales in all depots.
“We have noticed that local and Zimbabwean traders are buying our mealie meal in bulk and taking it across the border to their country, so we have resolved with government to restrict the sale of mealie meal in all our depots,” he said.
Speaking during a press briefing in Livingstone today, Mr. Cottan said National Milling in collaboration with all District Commissioners, would restrict the sale of mealie meal in all depots to two bags per day per individual customer and 10 bags per day for retail traders respectively.
And the Corporation has commended the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for the efficient delivery of subsidized maize to millers around the country.
He also revealed that there was overwhelming demand for mealie meal despite the Corporation producing the commodity at full capacity of 100 tonnes per day in Livingstone which had never operated at full capacity in the past.
“There is terrific demand for our product and we are operating at full capacity of producing 100 tonnes per day, seven days a week and this is a new record for Livingstone,” he said.
Mr. Cotton cautioned retail traders not to deliberately cause an artificial shortage of the staple food as this would inflate prices and lead to the exploitation of consumers.
Mr. Cotton who is touring the country to assess the availability of mealie meal in National Milling depots, said he was happy to see that the maize in many fields in the country, especially in Southern Province was maturing well and looking healthy.
He however, advised small-scale farmers to adopt modern farming techniques such as those used by commercial farmers, to improve on their crop yields.
“Small-scale farmers should adopt some of the techniques used by commercial farmers like using hybrid variety of seed, early planting and splitting the top dressing to mitigate the effects of leaching in case of floods as this is how commercial farmers improve their crop yields,” he said.
Meanwhile, National Milling MD commended the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for their efficient delivery of subsidized maize to millers around the country.
He said the FRA was currently supplying the Corporation with 15, 600 metric tonnes of subsidized maize per month and hoped that the trend would continue as any shortage of maize grain would result in the shortage of mealie meal.