COMMERCE, Trade and Industry Minister Christopher Yaluma says mealie meal prices have drastically reduced in districts where solar hammer mills are operational.

Responding to a question from Kabompo UPND member of parliament Ambrose Lufuma who wanted to find out whether the establishment of solar hammer mill had lived up to their objective in reducing the price of mealie meal in Parliament, Friday, Yaluma said mealie meal prices had reduced in places where solar hammer mills were in operation.

Asked on what the selection criteria for which districts to receive hammer mills, Yaluma said district officers ascertained the number of solar hammer mills that were needed in their districts.

“Indeed, as I speak right now, if you look at the price of mealie meal, it has drastically dropped down, so they have contributed in the areas where they are operational very very much. The distribution criteria was raised by the district itself working with the district cooperative officers and the committee which was put as they were allocated. So I wouldn’t engage you on how the distribution was done, that was purely an agreement amongst the stakeholders who are involved in that,” Yaluma said.

“I think we all know that all the cooperatives which went into this agreement have got to pay monthly installments for the equipment. As we speak right now, we went on last year extensively to ensure that we impose the culture of payment otherwise we can repose the equipment and take it elsewhere. So the payment has tremendously improved and they are paying whatever they are owing on a monthly basis.”

Earlier, Mkushi North PF member of parliament Doreen Mwape asked Yaluma how many solar powered hammer mills were installed and operational in Mkushi North Parliamentary Constituency as of December, 2019 and how many hammer mills were earmarked for installation in 2020.

In response, Yaluma said 47 hammer mills were installed in Mkushi North Parliamentary Constituency.

“As of December 2019, 47 hammer mills were installed in Mkushi North Parliamentary Constituency. 47 hammer mills were operational as of December 2019. Currently the scheduled installation which were made for 2020 has been disrupted by COVID-19 existence that means whatever was ordered, the inflow has been hampered due to border restrictions and other issues pertaining to movements of items from far countries into our country. So as soon as they come in we will look at the schedule and continue the implementation,” said Yaluma.