12 March 2014

Zambia: 'Kwacha Dip Won't Affect Mealie-Meal Prices'

GOVERNMENT has said the depreciation of the Kwacha will not affect mealie-meal prices because the cost of maize has remained static. Agriculture Deputy Minister Greyford Monde said in an interview that the depreciation of the Kwacha against currencies such as the United States (US) Dollar and British pound will not affect mealie meal prices.

"Exchange rates globally, are fluctuating and major currencies are losing their grip against others.

"Suffice to say that the availability of raw materials used in the production of mealie meal is not determined by currency activities but by availability," he said.

Mr Monde said countries like Japan have their currency struggling to match-up with the US dollar, but commodity prices in that country have remained stable and affordable for the ordinary consumer.

Meanwhile, MAZ president Allan Sakala said the cost of producing mealie-meal locally has remained relatively the same despite fluctuations in the exchange rate.

Mr Sakala said most of the costs related to mealie-meal production have remained static and millers are producing the commodity in quantities aligned to demand.

"Costs related to production have not been affected by the fluctuations in the exchange rate.

"Only when there are upward adjustments to commodities like petrol and electricity, will we consider an increase in the price of mealie-meal," he said.

Mr Sakala said following the overflow of maize on the local market by the Food Reserve Agency, the price of mealie meal has now stabilised in most parts of the country.

He said the price of mealie meal is expected to drop further as the country enters the crop harvesting season next month.

"The availability of other foods during harvest season reduces dependence on maize and this is also expected to contribute further price reductions for mealie meal," he said

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