The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has urged the government to closely monitor and regulate the amount of mealie meal being exported to avoid shortages and price hikes of the commodity in the long term.
In a statement released to Q-News, the JCTR notes that while the lifting of the mealie meal ban might contribute positively to Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Balance of Payments through increased foreign earnings from export revenues and contribute to maize farmers’ profitability and increase their incentives to produce maize, the ban may impact negatively on the poorest of the poor who solely rely on maize meal.
The JCTR says the current unpredictable weather patterns could have an effect on the production of maize which might affect the price of mealie meal.
The center adds that the lifting of the ban during a dry spell period may threaten food security and possibly cause an upward rise of the cost of mealie-meal locally.
It further notes that with the already high cost of living in Zambia, lifting of the ban could further increase the cost of living if not well managed as most households would now have to pay more for mealie meal due to increase in prices.
The JCTR says with the lifting of the ban, producers would most likely prefer the export market, where they would earn more, to the local one, thereby significantly reducing the availability of the commodity locally thereby causing an increase in the price locally.
The JCTR notes with worry that preferential option for the poor is being lost especially that their social concerns are not put first with regard to the lifting of the ban.
The center has since called on the government to legislate consistent policies on mealie meal exports to avoid the back and forth pronouncements of the export bans.