New Heritage Party (NHP) president, Chishala Kateka, has described government’s failure to manage the country’s staple food as scandalous.
She claimed that the price of mealie meal had become unaffordable for most Zambians and as usual, government was putting the blame on the milling companies for the high cost of the produce.
Kateka in a statement issued in Lusaka on Friday said the Party considered the issue of mealie meal in Zambia as a matter of national security as it impinged on the country’s political, economic and social stability.
“We would, therefore, like to raise some issues with regard to what could be done in managing maize from production to consumption in a sustainable manner,” she said.
Kateka said the first factor that had contributed to the high cost of mealie meal was the removal of subsidies on maize inputs for the household farmers who are the largest traditional producers.
She said the second contributor to the high price had been the rising floor price offered by the Food Reserve Agency.
“A 50Kg bag of maize rose from K150 in 2021, K180 in 2022 and to K280 in 2023. With this risen input cost, it becomes impossible to reduce the price of the end product,” Kateka said.
She stated that the higher floor price simply reflected the high cost of production of maize in the country arising out of the high cost of inputs and other production factors such as fuel for farm machinery and transportation.
Kateka said this being case, it was only logical in a free market economy that the millers would also put a markup to reflect their costs of production and earn a profit.
“It is, therefore, not the fault of the secondary producers that the commodity is now priced well out of the reach of the majority of Zambians,” she said.
Kateka claimed consequently, that massive hunger, leading to a highly undernourished and malnourished population was currently the state of affairs in the country.
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