FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza says prices of mealie meal will not come down by directing FRA to offload maize to millers because it is unsustainable.

Mwanza was reacting to agriculture minister Dora Siliya’s statement yesterday that government would direct the Food Reserve Agency to offload maize from the national reserves to millers to bring down the prices of mealie meal.

Siliya told journalists after meeting the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) that there seemed to be a disagreement in terms of prices between the Millers Association of Zambia and the GTAZ, which has resulted in the millers asking government to offload maize from FRA.

But in an interview yesterday, Mwanza said the intention was misplaced.

“FRA doesn’t have enough maize, we have just been told by the same Ministry of Agriculture that FRA has a shortfall of 200 000 metric tonnes. Where is FRA going to get the maize to start offloading on the market and for how long? That is not sustainable, there are 300,000 metric tonnes of maize after they offload that 300,000 metric tonnes of maize which is not even adequate for the consumption of this country for a year, what will happen after that 300 000 metric tonnes finishes?” Mwanza asked.

“The prices of the commodity, the prices of meali-meal will again shoot up and go high. The challenge here as to why mealie-meal prices continue to go up is because of the issue of cost of production. For as long as fuel prices are up, for as long as electricity tariffs are up, for as long as transportation is high, the prices of mealie-meal will continue to go up.”

He reminded government that pricing, in a free market, was about supply and demand.

“The issues of price in a free market has got nothing do with them offloading or not offloading. It is an issue to do with demand and supply as well as the issue to do with the cost of productions. What they need to do is to reduce the cost of production which is extremely high at the moment,” said Mwanza.