The Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) says the new policy lifting the ban of mealie meal exports needs to be revised because some millers who accessed subsidized Food Reserve Agency (FRA) maize are restricted from participating.

Commenting on Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo’s recent policy pronouncement where he announced the lifting on the ban of mealie meal exports, MAZ president Andrew Chintala said the Association plans on engaging government in a bid to revise the policy because millers who accessed FRA maize will be excluded from participating in the lucrative export market.

One of the conditions Katambo announced as part of the major policy pronouncement was that millers, particularly Copperbelt-based millers who accessed subsidized FRA grain, will not be allowed to get import permits for mealie meal.

“This is actually meant to assist us on so many fronts: 1) There’s a condition given in the Minister’s statement with regards to who participates in the exports, that some of those who accessed the FRA maize may not be able to participate, a thing that I’d like to engage the Minister to find a win-win situation for all those that have got the capacity to be able to participate because we are looking at two markets,” Chintala said in an interview.

“It’s not just the exports; we need to look at the domestic market. So, I wouldn’t want to foresee a situation where people start concentrating on the export market when neglecting the domestic market. For me, what is cardinal in dealing with the exports is the issue of capacity; does miller B have the capacity to be able to uptake from the private sector; to be able to produce for local consumption, export and maximize the profits from the outside market compared to the local market.”

He explained that as many different millers ought to be able to participate in the export market, which usually sees a 25Kg breakfast bag of mealie meal priced at around double the price compared to Zambian prices.

“We need to be extra careful as we deal with this issue of exports because there are millers that may have participated in the FRA maize who I feel should also be brought on board in the sense that they may have the financial capacity as well as the crushing capacity to be able to take care of the local market and the export market,” explained Chintala.

“So, it is, indeed, a positive move, but we will engage the Ministry (of Agriculture) to try and look at the issue of that restriction. I feel we should concentrate more on the capacity side and insist that FRA maize remains in the country for our own domestic consumption.”