Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) says the order by president Michael Sata to reduce of mealie- meal prices will negatively affect them because there are other factors involved in production.
MAZ chairperson Allan Sakala said the millers have to factor in various costs such as the high cost of labour following the introduction of the new minimum wage last year, transport, electricity and cost of raw material.
Mr Sakala said on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme in Lusaka on Tuesday that the time and cost at which farming inputs are delivered to farmers contribute to increase in mealie meal prices.
“We are affected by the directive by the President to reduce the price of mealie meal to about KR47 (K47, 000) breakfast wholesale price and about KR35 (KR35,00) roller meal. The new price will negatively affect us due to various elements involved in the production of mealie meal such as the cost of raw materials, electricity, transport and labour.
“The new prices for mealie meal as discussed with President Sata on Monday should be put into effect immediately by millers which is KR47 (K47, 000) breakfast wholesale and KR35 (K35, 000) roller meal,” he said.
He said the association is waiting for Government’s response on the issues tabled during the discussion with the President.
Mr Sakala also attributed the increase in mealie meal to increased price of maize by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to KR60 (K60, 000) this year from about KR42 (K42, 000) in last year.
“One of the reason why the price of mealie meal increased is that, last year, Government was selling maize to millers at about KR42 (K42,000) but this year Government has decided to sale maize to millers at KR60 (K60,000).
“The price was increased by about 30 to 40 percent, the aspect of raw material coupled with transport, electricity and labour,” he said.
Mr Sakala said usually the price of mealie meal is high between September and February.
He, however, said from March, there is enough stock and the demand for mealie meal gets suppressed.
“The increased number of milling companies in Lusaka compared to other parts of the country has also contributed to the increase of mealie meal because traders have to transport the commodity from the milling (plant) to their respective areas,” he said.
When asked on whether millers have formed cartels, he said there is no room for the millers to do so as seen by the difference in pricing of the commodity.
Meanwhile, MAZ has commended FRA for taking measure to ensure that maize is secured compared to the other season when it had gone to waste.