President Edgar Lungu has stressed that the days of millers depending on cheap maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) are long gone.
President Lungu says the FRA is only meant to store strategic reserves, taking into consideration that it is the primary purpose why the agency was established.
The President has also encouraged millers to buy maize from farmers and has appealed to those that are not able to conduct maize buying on their own to instead sub-contract grain traders to procure the commodity on their behalf.
And the Head of State says the developments taking place in the milling industry are a clear indication that the private sector is embracing the government’s policies of promoting private sector development and value addition.
He said this yesterday when he officially opened the African Milling New Maize Plant situated along Buyantanshi road in Lusaka.
And the President noted that the expansion project by African Milling is expected to increase milling capacity to 506 metric tonnes of maize per day.
He said with this production capacity, the plant is supposed to run at full capacity, hence the need to address load shedding and ensure adequate maize meal supply which he said will cushion the escalating mealie meal prices.
The President mentioned that the government has been making frantic efforts to ensure that maize production is improved in the current farming season.
President Lungu explained that he is confident that the creation of the maize market through the expansion of the African Milling as well as other developments in the milling industry will propel farmers to grow maize, and service the local market, as well as export the surplus to the region.
And the Head of State has further urged all millers to emulate African Milling which is not only focusing on milling but also supplying inputs to farmers.
He, however, said he is aware of the players in the market who are hoarding maize under the pretext that they will realize exorbitant prices around January and February next year.
The President indicated that such practices create artificial shortages resulting in high mealie meal prices, and has since advised the perpetrators to desist from doing so as the strategy is prone to fail.
President Lungu said the government is in constant touch with farmers, millers and grain traders through the stocks monitoring committee under the Ministry of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, Chairman for African Milling, Zaeed Patel said the expansion of the milling plant is testimony of the continued support and commitment by African Milling to ensure food security in the country.
He noted that the past few months have been critical and challenging in some parts of the country hence the need for government to work together with other stakeholders in ensuring food security.
And Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo, said the developments taking place in the milling industry is an indication that farmers should position themselves for increased demand of agriculture produce by millers.
Mr Katambo noted that government through his ministry will continue to facilitate a conducive environment which will include allowing maize exports after satisfying the local requirements.
Lusaka Minister Bowman Lusambo indicated that government is working hard to ensure that the living standards of people in all parts of the country are improved upon.
He noted that the country has continued witnessing such investments in food processing companies especially milling and other sectors due to the good leadership of President Lungu.