28 November 2012

Zambia: Thumbs Up to Food Reserve Agency

THE decision by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to offload maize on the domestic market will certainly preclude the shortage of mealie meal and other by-products in the country.

Recently, the Copperbelt experienced a shortage of mealie-meal which sent prices up two-fold at the time the country has recorded consecutive maize bumper harvests.

It was difficult to pin-point where the distortions occurred in the production chain because millers, FRA, traders and farmers all maintained innocence and instead made accusations and counter-accusations against each other.

The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) was candid and challenged millers to make public their maize stock levels, but the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) on the other hand demanded that farmers should instead offload enough maize on the local market.

While major players were engaged in altercations, consumers, particularly in Kitwe, jostled to buy the staple food, whose prices had skyrocketed to as high as K85,000 per 50 kilogramme bag of breakfast from about K44,000.

It was sad to see consumers queue for the commodity at the time the country is boasting of a bumper harvest.

The Government did not rule out the possibility of some players in the production chain hoarding maize as an "arm twisting" tactic.

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