THE price of bread will soon go up following an increase in the price of flour despite Government’s decision to lift the importation ban of wheat into Zambia.
Bakers Association of Zambia (BAZ) chairman Kapdi Azizi said the price of flour has increased drastically such that even the lifting of the importation ban of wheat will not make any difference on the local market.
Mr Azizi said the price of flour has increased from K185 per 50 kilogramme bag five months ago to between K250 – K265 for the same quantity.
This comes after three commercial farmers were recently accused of hoarding wheat as they anticipated a shortage from which they could gain by offloading at a higher price.
A week ago, Wheat Commodity Committee chairman under the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) Donald Burton said it was agreed at its meeting that the country needed to import 50,000 tonnes of wheat to cushion the market.
Mr Azizi however said his members were grateful for the lifting of the ban on the importation of wheat but called for measures that would bring down the price of the commodity on the local market.
“We are grateful to the Government for lifting the ban on the importation of wheat into the country, but we are concerned with the high prices of flour on the local market.
“Our major concern is for the Ministry of Agriculture to find a way of bringing down the price of flour following the removal of the ban,” he said.
Mr Azizi explained that BAZ had expected the importation to wheat to influence a downward adjustment to the price of flour in the country but this had not happened.
He accused some millers of taking advantage of the United States dollar appreciation by over pricing the local flour whose production cost had nothing to do with the international market.
Mr Azizi said the Government must come up with measures to influence the millers in line with the market happenings such as reducing the price of flour as an ultimate response to the lifting of the importation ban.
“Some millers are just taking advantage of the US currency by over pricing on local flour, what does the dollar have to do with the production process of Mkushi flour?
“Bread is a local commodity that every household buys for breakfast and in-between meals and making it too expensive affects the cost of living at household level,” he said.
Mr Azizi charged that while the importation of wheat could have helped bring down the cost of flour and consequently bread, the reductions in the price of bread would be impossible.
And Mr Azizi said speculation about looming sugar and yeast price hikes would lead to even higher bread prices in Zambia including other confectioneries. He said while BAZ appreciated the removal of the ban on wheat imports, it was unfortunate that there would be no effect on the price of bread and other wheat products in Zambia, but instead consumers would have to spend more due to imminent price increments of bread and other wheat products.