The critical shortage of maize and high mealie meal prices in Zambia is a direct result of the PF government of having exported the commodity to neighbouring countries with contracts given to PF cadres.
And marketers dealing in maize in Chipata district in Eastern Province have taken advantage of the mealie- meal shortage to hike maize prices due to the increased demand for the commodity.
People in the district have opted to procure maize which they take to hammer millers in order to have mealie meal.
A check by ZANIS yesterday found that traders at Kapata market and second class trading area had hiked the price of the commodity.
Traders talked to said that a 1×50 Kilogram bag of maize which was selling at KR50 was now going at KR120 while a 16 liters tin of maize commonly known ‘ Meda’ which was between KR18 and KR20 was now trading at KR35.
“Due to the demand for maize that has been caused by shortage of mealie- meal, farmers in the district have also taken advantage to hike the selling price of maize but before this, we were selling a 16 liter of maize at KR20rebased, “she said.
Sofia Zulu attributed the increase of the price of the commodity to the critical shortage of mealie- meal that has hit some parts of the district.
Ms Zulu said they had decided to hike the price because the ordering price for a 1×50 kg bag of maize was at KR100.
And Rebecca Zulu a black marketer at second class trading area said that she spends much of her time fetching for the maize grain to re-sell.
Ms Zulu stated that buying of maize was the easier business to trade before as maize was available in most areas of the rural places.
She however called on government to find the root cause of shortage of mealie- meal which she said affected their business.
She wondered how Eastern Province could be hit with shortages of mealie- meal and maize when the province is the highest producers of maize in the country.
Sources at the Ministry of Agriculture and Bank of Zambia said they are surprised that government has continued to export even the remaining maize stocks to other countries when citizens in various parts of the country are queuing for the commodity.
Senior government sources said two weeks ago, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) were directed to give contracts to some PF cadres to export maize to Tanzania.
The Zambian Food Reserve Agency (FRA) signed a contract with the Tanzania National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to supply 20,000 metric tonnes of white maize valued at US$7million to Tanzania.
But now the entire Eastern province has completely run-out of the commodity and residents are required to queue for letters of authorization from the District Commissioner to enable them buy the limited bags in the area.
Recently, Kabompo, North-western province, residents stormed the office of the District Commissioner (DC), Dennis Kanyakula, to protest over high prices of maize which have shot up to KR250 per 50 kg bag this month from KR100 in January.
Mr. Kanyakula who confirmed the development to ZANIS also said shops in Kabompo have run out of both breakfast and roller meal for a week.
The maize prices in small quantities in Kabombo have also increased from KR20 per 20litre container in January to KR100 for the same quantity and cassava from K15 per 20 litre container in January to KR30.
But FRA Executive Director, Chola Kafwabulula, signed the maize export contract on behalf of FRA while the Tanzania National Food Reserve Agency Chief Executive Officer, Charles Walwa, signed on before of his agency.
Speaking during the signing ceremony at the FRA Head Office in Lusaka, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Permanent Secretary, Siazongo Siakalenge, congratulated the two food reserve agencies for successfully signing the agreement.
Mr Siakalenge stated that the transaction is meant to assist Tanzania to mitigate any chances of a shortage of white maize that is imminent in that country.
He thanked the Tanzanian Government for looking up to Zambia for the supply of maize, saying this shows the confidence that that country has in Zambia’s capacity to feed the Southern African region in particular and the continent in general.
Speaking earlier, representative of Tanzania’s High Commissioner in Zambia, Justa Nyange, thanked the FRA for coming to the aid of NFRA to balance the maize stock in her country.
Ms Nyange also thanked President Sata for offering Tanzania an opportunity to procure maize from Zambia through the FRA.