SOME millers are hoarding maize awaiting export permits from the Ministry of Agriculture because it is more profitable to sell mealie meal abroad than locally, Agriculture minister Given Lubinda has confirmed.
But Mr Lubinda said he will only consider the millers’ request to export mealie meal after verifying that Zambians in all parts of
the country were buying the staple food at a reduced price.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Lubinda said the ministry had received a lot of submissions from millers asking for export permits.
He said millers had assured him that they had surplus maize stocks which they could export after milling the grain.
Mr Lubinda said that the ministry would also not allow the export of mealie meal whose maize was bought from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) as it was sold to them at a reduced price.
He said the off-loaded maize from FRA was meant to benefit the local market and he has since urged millers to off-load all their products locally. “I have received a lot of export submissions from millers who are saying they have enough mealie meal in stock which is not selling. My encouragement to them is that they all ought to reduce prices; no one should sell at a higher price than they agreed with Government; only after we have seen that every part of the country is buying the staple food at a recommended price then shall we consider their requests for exports.
“As Government we would like to encourage the export of mealie meal instead of maize. However, we will not allow mealie meal whose maize was bought from FRA because it was sold to them at a price that was meant for the local market,” Mr Lubinda said.
And Mr Lubinda has commended the Zambia National Service for their vigilance on the curbing of smuggling of mealie meal in border towns.
“As you walk around many shops around the country, particularly in Lusaka, you will find that shops are filled with mealie meal owing to the efforts by ZNS. As Government, we commend their efforts and we urge them to continue with their good work,” he said.
The recommended wholesale price for a 25 kg bag of breakfast mealie meal is K70 while K50 is for roller mealie meal. The retail price for a 25 kg bag of breakfast mealie meal is K75 while K55 is for roller.
Some wholesalers and retailers have however continued to sell the commodity at higher prices.