The Zambia Consumers Association (ZACA) has called for the transformation in the role of the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) from not only a maize storage agency but to also be a subsidiary milling company.
Speaking to ZANIS in an interview yesterday, ZACA Executive Director Muyunda Ililonga said there is need for the role of FRA to be revised so that it can compete with private millers in order to guarantee that consumers are not exploited.
Mr. Muyunda stated that if FRA had a milling department, millers would not take advantage of consumers by hiking mealie meal prices, thereby making the staple food affordable to the average Zambian.
He noted that Zambia would not be the first country to do this as a neighbouring country, South Africa already has a milling Plant under its Ministry of Trade, and has thus been able to avoid consumer exploitation by millers.
Mr. Muyunda commended government for instructing FRA to sale maize directly to households in some places where millers have not yet reduced mealie meal prices.
He stated that government had a custodial duty to protect its citizens from any form of exploitation by profit-driven private companies.
Mr. Muyunda noted that in a situation created by millers, where most people were not able to afford the staple food, government had an overriding role to step in and make interventions.
He explained that the rise in food prices is not peculiar to Zambia alone, but is a global problem.
Mr. Muyunda further explained that various governments have since put different measures to ensure the availability of food to their citizens, adding that what the Zambian government has done is only normal.
He said government’s intervention in mealie meal prices, should be a lesson to everyone, that even in the most capitalist market, some things must still be controlled by government.