The high cost of transporting maize from other provinces, leading to high mealie meal prices on the Copperbelt has prompted the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) to solicit for Food Reserve Agency (FRA) maize from within the province.
MAZ president Andrew Chintala said that in an effort to address the high transportation cost that millers are incurring as a result of importing maize from other provinces, the association has engaged the Ministry Of Agriculture to allow FRA to offload maize to millers operating within the copperbelt.
Mr. Chintala said that since FRA operates on a principle of releasing maize on first in first out basis, it only releases old stock and holds on to the new stock which is sold in the preceding year.
He has told Radio Phoenix in an interview that as of last week, Agriculture Minister Mtolo Phiri gave a go-ahead to FRA to offload maize to the millers across the country.
Meanwhile, Authorities on the Copperbelt are concerned with the escalating mealie meal prices and have appealed to the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) to check the price of the staple food.
Ndola District Commissioner Joseph Phiri said it is unacceptable for a 25-kilogram bag of breakfast mealie meal to be sold at K195.00 from K145.00.
Mr. PHIRI who was speaking when he inspected the Food Reserve Agency depot in Ndola’s industrial area said the region still has sufficient maize stokes and wondered why millers have increased mealie meal prices.
He said while Zambia is a liberalized economy, it is not right for the millers to be exploiting Zambian consumers.
Mr. Phiri noted that the K50.00 increase imposed by the millers is unjustifiable.
But the Millers Association of Zambia President ANDREW CHINTALA says the prices will soon stabilize following engagements with the government to make available current grain stocks in FRA depots close to milling companies.
Mr. CHINTALA commended Agriculture Minister MUTOLO PHIRI for coming to the aid of millers who were covering long distances to fetch the grain, a development which pushed the mealie meal prices up on the Copperbelt.
He said with the minister’s intervention Millers on the Copperbelt and other regions are now accessing grain within the locality of their plants which will in turn push prices down.
Mr. CHINTALA added that the Millers Association is