Mealie meal price increases have been driven by Zambia’s drought-hit areas, which has limited supply of maize grain on the market, says the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI).

And IAPRI have noted that the primary destination of both maize and mealie meal remains the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to the higher prices, pulling the essential commodities out of Zambia.

In a Maize Market Status Report for February and March, 2019, IAPRI stated that mealie meal prices hikes in the first two months of this year had been driven by limited supply of maize grain on the local market, triggered by dry spells that had been experienced this year.

“Given the limited supply of maize grain on the Zambian market, prices for grain continued to rise in the first two months of 2019. In places where the dry spells have been prominent, like the Southern and Western provinces, maize grain and mealie meal prices may be higher than the same months last year,” IAPRI stated.

Data showing results from surveys undertaken on the status of maize and mealie meal availability on the local market showed that the country’s dry spells from the end of January to-date had triggered higher wholesale and retail mealie meal prices compared to the same period last year.

“Like maize grain, breakfast, and roller maize meal prices have been increasing over time. For corresponding months in 2018, consumers paid less for breakfast maize meal compared to now. In real terms, the price in February, 2019, rose by about 25 per cent compared to February, 2018,” it narrated.

“The upward price shift is expected because the maize market has been tight during the 2018/2019 marketing season. In the 2017/18 marketing season, market conditions, such as the high production levels coupled with an export ban, depressed prices to below K60 per 25Kg bag. The same is true for roller meal, whose prices are much lower than breakfast meal.”

Central Statistical Office (CSO) data equally reveals that the national average mealie meal price jumped to over 30 per cent by the end of last month of K96.09 per 25Kg breakfast bag compared to K73.46 for the same quantity last March.

And IAPRI, the agro-focused think-tank and agricultural policy research and outreach institute, explained that the primary destination of Zambia’s maize and mealie meal remains the DRC because high prices have continued to attract huge quantities of the commodity to that country.

“IAPRI in collaboration with the FEWSNET Regional Office is monitoring in-formal trade in seven border posts (i.e., Kasumbalesa, Kipushi, Chirundu, Zombe, Lumi, Mpulungu, and Nakonde). The data shows that the primary destination market for maize grain and mealie meal is the DRC. The purchase prices for maize grain and mealie meal were K300 per 50Kg and K150 per 25Kg, respectively, on the Zambian side of Kasumbalesa border post. On the DRC side, a 50Kg bag of maize grain was going for K400, while a 25Kg bag of mealie meal was fetching K200,” revealed IAPRI.