Government should consider temporary emergency cash transfers to urban poor households to enable consumers afford the escalating prices of mealie meal, says the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI).
And IAPRI says mealie meal and maize smuggling across Zambia’s borders will intensify given the lucrative prices obtaining in the regional export markets.
Meanwhile, IAPRI says Zambia’s food security situation remains mixed as Southern and Western provinces will need continuous food relief for residents who were affected by the prolonged dry spells during the just-ended 2018/2019 agricultural season.
In its latest Food Security Status Report for the period ending June 30, 2019, IAPRI advised government to consider implementing temporary emergency cash transfers to urban poor households to enable consumers afford the escalating prices of mealie meal.
IAPRI data shows that prices of the commodity have sharply risen in relation to the dwindling supply of maize on the local market, as a 25Kg breakfast bag in provincial centres fetches for between K104 to around K109.
“To avoid knee-jerk policies that have long-lasting negative impacts on maize market development, such as price controls, there might be a need for government to consider temporary emergency cash transfers to urban poor households to afford commercially-milled maize meal. This would be a better option than a blanket subsidy delivered through millers,” IAPRI recommended.
It observed that a constant supply of maize to the high-densely populated areas was equally important in providing consumers with cheaper mealie meal.
“In addition, to ensure that urban consumers continue to have access to cheaper maize meal, there is a need to have constant grain supply into markets, such as Soweto, Bauleni and Chisokone. This provides households with an alternative source of grain for milling at the local grinding mill instead of relying only on formal milled maize meal,” it stated.
And IAPRI, the agro-focused research think tank, projected that smuggling of mealie meal and maize across Zambia’s borders will intensify given the lucrative prices obtaining in the regional export markets, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
IAPRI data reveals that rampant smuggling of maize increased by 47 per cent between April and May, 2019.
“Market proximity and the high price differential between Zambia and the neighbouring countries like the DRC and Malawi continue to steer unofficial maize grain and mealie meal trade despite the export ban. Informal cross border maize grain and mealie meal trade in border towns are expected to intensify as traders and farmers explore other alternative lucrative markets nearby,” it stated.
“With reduced regional maize supply, the maize outflow is expected to continue mostly to the DRC and Malawi, which are closer to high production areas of the Copperbelt and Eastern provinces, which have performed moderately well.”
Meanwhile, IAPRI stated that Zambia’s food security situation remained mixed as Southern and Western provinces will need food relief for residents who were affected by the prolonged dry spells during the just-ended 2018/2019 agricultural season.
“The food security situation remains mixed with most areas in the northern half, where the 2018/2019 agricultural season performed relatively well, showing no signs of food insecurity. However, some rural areas in the southern parts of the country (e.g. Siavonga, Gwembe, Sinazongwe and Zimba were among the worst affected) are already showing signs of food insecurity following incidences of crop failure and restricted trade in livestock and livestock products due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in livestock-rearing areas like Monze,” stated IAPRI.
“To ensure poor households are food secure in the most affected areas, relief food needs to continue to flow to their areas and community sales need to be intensified during the hunger season.”