The government has assured the nation that Zambia is food secure beyond the next harvest and that it expects mealie meal prices to gradually fall.
Chief Government Spokesperson Chusi Kasanda attributed the expectation to new maize stock from small-scale farmers which will start being offloaded on the market.
In a statement released to the media, Ms Kasanda however noted that the relatively high mealie meal prices being experienced are a result of the high cost of carry-over maize grain which is being used to process the mealie meal.
Currently, the latest retail price of breakfast mealie meal is averaging K150 per 25-kilogram bag while the price of the same quantity of roller meal is averaging K110.
Ms Kasanda said Prices are slightly higher in some areas of Muchinga, Northern, Eastern and Western provinces mainly as a result of external influences such as smuggling.
Ms Kasanda, who is the Information and Media Minister also said that the country is food secure beyond the next harvest, adding that there is adequate mealie meal supply throughout the country.
Ms Kasanda revealed that the country produced over 2.7 million metric tonnes of maize during the 2021/2022 agriculture season and that the country had a total maize carry-over stock of over 1.5 million metric tonnes, leaving the country with excess maize stock of over 1.2 million metric tonnes.
Below is the full statement
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND MEDIA AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON HON. CHUSHI KASANDA, MP, ON THE NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY
Some sections of our society have in the recent past raised concern about what they feel is a weak food security situation in the country, coupled with high mealie meal prices.
I wish to assure the nation that the country is food secure beyond the next harvest. As at 12th May, 2022 when the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Reuben Mtolo Phiri, MP, announced the crop Forecast Survey results for the 2021/2022 Agriculture Season, the country had the following stocks:
During the 2021/2022 agriculture season, the country produced a total of 2,706,243.00 metric tonnes of maize. In addition, the country had a total of maize carry-over stock of 1,506,432 metric tonnes, giving a total stock of 4,209,675.00 metric tonnes. The total annual national maize grain requirement for human, livestock, industrial and other uses, stands at 3,004,763 metric tonnes.
When this is netted out of the total available stock of 4,209,675 metric tonnes, it leaves the country with an excess maize stock of 1,204,912 metric tonnes.
2. Maize price
Prices of the new maize crop average K3.50 per kg (about K175 per 50kg bag) while the previous season’s maize average K4.00 per kg (about K200 per 50kg bag). These prices are expected to gradually reduce to around K3.20 per kg (about K160 per 50kg bag) as the new crop which is currently being harvested, is on the market in July, 2022.
3. Mealie meal prices and supply
The latest retail price of breakfast mealie meal is averaging K150 per 25kg bag while the price of the same quantity of roller meal is averaging K110. Prices are slightly higher in some areas of Muchinga, Northern, Eastern and Western provinces mainly as a result of external influences such as smuggling.
Otherwise, mealie meal is in adequate supply throughout the country. Different brands are found in different areas of the country, thereby giving the consumer a wide choice. These brands are also being sold at different prices.
I further wish to state that mealie meal prices for millers that are participating in the Maize Export Programme are lower as they are compensated with exports. The government projects mealie meal prices to gradually fall as the new maize from our small-scale farmers starts being offloaded on the market.
The relatively high mealie meal prices currently being experienced are a result of the high price of carry-over maize grain which is being used to process the mealie meal.
I further wish to inform the nation that the country currently has a total wheat stock of 319,356.00 metric tonnes. The country also expects to produce 874,400.00 metric tonnes of cassava flour and 63,911 metric tonnes of paddy rice.
On behalf of the Government, once again, I wish to assure the nation that we are food secure despite the reduced harvest during the 2021/2022 farming season.
Through stakeholder consultation and collaboration, Government will ensure that mealie meal, our staple food, is available and affordable and that no citizen of this country will go hungry.