THE Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) will this year set up milling plants in selected provincial centres to mill the maize grown by cooperative societies.
The federation has identified milling as the first priority area in the value addition chain it intends to carry out starting this year.
mes Chirwa said the milling machines would be acquired from China following his visit to that country last year.
Last year, ZCF started drawing up a five-year master plan aimed at introducing small industries in all district cooperatives across the country to add value to various farm produce.
Mr Chirwa said the cooperative had prioritised milling after looking at the potential the staple food has in contributing to the economic growth of the country.
"ZCF has prioritised milling because there is a lot of demand from consumers across the country and we think this will reduce the high mealie meal prices we have been experiencing across the country," he said.
Mr Chirwa said when the milling plants became operational, all the producing provinces would be self-sufficient in mealie meal thereby reducing prices of the commodity.
He said once the milling plants were rolled out, there would be less maize that would go to waste, especially in remote parts of the country.
"The whole idea is, we want to make sure that food is not 'imported' by producing provinces but that they become self-sufficient unlike the situation whereby maize is grown and sent to central milling plants only to bring it back finished products to the same areas that produced the maize," he said.
Mr Chirwa said second among priority areas would be fertiliser direct imports from China which he said would help cooperative members to access cheap inputs.
He said once that had been achieved the challenges members face in terms of access to affordable farming inputs would be over.
Mr Chirwa added that the other area in the value-addition chain would be to import small machines to be used to add value to various agro products like mangoes and other fruits.
He said in most cases the produce went waste.
He said the programme was huge needed support from the Government and all the stakeholders.