Sinazongwe District Commissioner, Nchimunya Siakole says Government is promoting community sales of maize under the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) as a measure to cushion shortage of the grain in the District which has been compounded by dry spells experienced in the 2022/ 2023 farming season.
The District Commissioner said the measure will help reduce the price of mealie meal in the district where a 25 kilogramme bag of breakfast mealie meal is selling at K200.
Mr Siakole said the district has only two millers who are not registered with the Millers Association of Zambia(MAZ).
He said this situation cannot allow the two millers to purchase the maize under community sales as they are not registered members of MAZ to buy cheaper maize from FRA.
“Sinazongwe district depends on mealie meal supply from outsiders as the local millers have been unable to provide the commodity and this is causing shortages,” he said.
Mr Siakole said mealie meal dealers in Sinazongwe District were advised to strictly sell only two to three bags of 25kg mealie meal to clients in an effort to cushion the shortage of the commodity.
He said the dealers have resorted to paying some youths to buy the mealie meal for them against the advice of the district administration, a situation which he described as contributing to shortages of mealie meal in the district.
A check by ZANIS at Sinazeze FRA sheds found people that had already deposited money, collecting the maize.
Mary Simoonga, a resident, said the community sale was helping out a lot as she was able to buy the maize grinded into mealie meal and samp for her family to have food.
She said many people in the area are buying maize from FRA as opposed to buying mealie meal from local dealers who are selling the commodity at exorbitant price because of the shortage and the prices were exorbitant.
Ms Simoonga appealed to government to extend the period of community sales at FRA while working on stabilizing the prices of mealie meal.
And Webby Siabasimbi of Maamba Township said the community sales of maize by FRA has helped a lot of families who are facing hunger.
“We want the prices of both maize and mealie meal to be reduced further so that we can afford to feed our families,” he said.
Mr Siabasimbi said while the community appreciated the maize community sales by FRA, there is need for government to work with the MAZ to ensure millers consider reducing mealie meal prices further.
He said the economy has hit hard on families especially in rural areas who are failing to meet the high current prices of essential commodities such as mealie meal which have resulted from poor crop performance.