Saturday, June 22, 2024

Poor planning of the 2022-23 farming season by the Government is the cause of mealie-meal shortage, says JCTR Executive Director, Fr. Alex Muyebe.

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The current mealie-meal shortage on the Zambian market is a result of the poor planning of the 2022-23 farming season by the government, according to the Executive Director of Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), Fr. Alex Muyebe. In a statement, Fr. Muyebe said that “the onset of the 2022-23 farming season witnessed chaos in organizing the beneficiaries list of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), late distribution of farming input, distribution of incomplete farming input sets, high cost of farming inputs and shortage of farming inputs on the markets.”

He also pointed out that subsistent and small-scale farmers seriously depend on the availability, affordability, and accessibility of farming inputs to produce beyond household consumption. “Food availability, affordability and accessibility at the household level in Zambia is heavily dependent on agriculture. Families depend on agriculture as a source of food, nutrition, and income,” Fr. Muyebe said.

The shortage of mealie meal, a staple food in Zambia, is likely to have an economic bearing on already struggling families to access basic food, according to Fr. Muyebe. “The shortage of mealie meal is likely going to drive up the price of the commodity and in turn this will increase the cost of living, which is the amount of money required to cover necessary expenses in a particular place and time,” he said.

Fr. Muyebe emphasized the need for the government to assess the current maize stock in the country’s reserves and communicate measures to sustain food security in the country before implementing the short-term measure of importing mealie meal from South Africa. He added that there is a need for an effective strategy to better manage the farmer input support to subsistence and small-scale farmers in the 2023-24 farming season in order to boost maize production.

“The mealie meal smuggling problem must be addressed constructively by strategically dealing with all the identified contributing factors. Investment in irrigation farming must be prioritized alongside scaling up of agro-ecological practices among small-scale farmers,” Fr. Muyebe said. “This includes building of household seed banks and promoting planting of open-pollinated seeds (local) seeds by small-scale farmers to reduce dependence on commercialized and chemicalized farming inputs to enhance food security and improve nutrition outcomes.”

In conclusion, the JCTR Executive Director stressed the importance of the government’s strategic planning of farming input needs to avoid the current mealie-meal crisis and its implications on the cost of living. “For factors that Government can control, like the availability, affordability, accessibility and diversity of farming input, it must strategically plan for such,” Fr. Muyebe said.

8 COMMENTS

  1. There is no mealie meal shortage in Zambia. The fact is that there is a huge demand for the commodity in the entire region.
    The government only plans for the 20 million people in Zambia and not the 100 million people in the DRC, 19 million in Malawi and the 476 million people in East Africa.
    Can Zambia grow enough maize to feed the entire region? the answer is NO. Almost every Zambia would have to go into commercial farming.
    Can Zambia keep the price of mealie meal low(say PF prices of K170 per 25kg) . The answer is NO. Debt funded Food subsidies were removed . There is an upward commodity price pressure due to the huge demand for maize/mealie meal in the region.

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    • Your version is not what the government ascribes to as reasons for shortage. Infact, they say Zambia has more than enough that they were even able to export. FRA still has plentiful maize. What logic is in importing to cover the offset local market when they were exporting the same grain yesterday?
      Your argument does not hold water.

  2. This father is mixing up things. 2022 – 2023 farming season maize is still in the fields. How can this crop which is not yet harvested cause current mealie meal shortage?

  3. To solve this mealie meal issue once and for all, Government will need to use ZNS. ZNS should create massive state farms were they should grow mainly maize and then mill it . Then set up their own distribution chain. They should have there own warehouses and retail outlets to sell mealie meal to the public at the lowest possible price.

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