MILLERS who will sell a 25 kg bag of breakfast meal at more than K70 after buying maize from Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will be penalised, agriculture minister Given Lubinda warned in Parliament yesterday.
Mr Lubinda said Government had observed with concern the increase in mealie meal prices by millers. “President Edgar Lungu is a listening President and has acted to serve the interest of the country. With these measures, government expects the price of mealie meal to stabilize at the agreed prices,” Mr Lubinda said.
He said members of the public had also raised concerns on the rising price of mealie meal and other essential commodities in the country.
“With immediate effect, the Food Reserve Agency will make available maize grain to millers. The FRA will enter into legally binding contracts with millers who are interested in participating in the programme,” Mr Lubinda said.
He said the decision was arrived at after consultation with the Millers Association of Zambia, Grain Traders Association of Zambia, Zambia National Farmers Union and other stakeholders under the guidance of President Edgar Lungu.
Mr Lubinda emphasised that the programme was voluntary, adding that millers were free not to participate in it.
He said FRA would make available maize grain to millers up to April 30, 2016. “For those millers who adhered to government’s directive to fully participate in maize marketing this season, the FRA will extend the period its supplies maize to such millers for a further two months, that is, up to 30th June 2016. This measure is intended to act as an incentive for continued participation in maize marketing by millers,” Mr Lubinda said.
He said FRA bought maize from farmers across the country at K75 per 50KG bag or K1,500 per metric tonne.
Mr Lubinda said FRA would in turn sell the maize grain to millers at the price of K85.00 per 50KG bag or K1, 700 per tonne.
“Millers who participate in this programme will maintain their wholesale price of mealie meal as follows: Not more than K70 per 25KG bag for breakfast, not more than K55 per 25KG bag of roller meal and not more than K30 per 25KG bag of maize bran,” Mr Lubinda said.
He said it had also been established that millers will continue to allow retailers to maintain a retail margin of not more than K5 per 25KG bag.
Mr Lubinda said millers that access FRA maize would not be allowed to export maize and mealie meal as the programme was meant for Zambians only.
Mr Lubinda said FRA will also make available maize to the ZCF for the solar milling plants that were currently operational as well as for those that were expected to be operational by January 2016.
And Mr Lubinda said Government has decided to allow limited importation of processed edible oil in order to meet domestic demand and bring in a level of competition on the local market.
Mr Lubinda said that it had observed that some local oil processors took advantage of Government’s earlier decision to ban the importation of edible oil to increase prices.
“To help mitigate against rising domestic prices for edible oil,
government had decided to allow limited importation of processed edible oil. This measure is intended to meet domestic demand and to bring in a level of competition on the local market,” Mr Lubinda said.