STABILISE MEALIE MEAL PRICES

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Whatever economics are involved in the pricing of mealie meal, a reduction in the price of the commodity is needed.

This is the call from the common man, especially in the densely populated areas and those responsible for pricing need to hear these cries.

The sharp rise in the prices of mealie meal because of various economic variables has caused concern among consumers in the low income bracket and those in informal employment.

This could also be seen from the views expressed by Bauleni Compound residents who have appealed to government to lower the cost of mealie meal.

The residents said the new prices of the commodity were very high for most families to afford.

In an interview with the Sun, Bridget Mumba, a divorcee and mother of four urged government to urgently look into matter before some families starve.

Ms Mumba said the new prices will make it impossible for big families like hers to afford the two bags of mealie meal they use per month.

“Mealie meal prices have gone up from K60.00 to between K97.00 and K105.00. How will single parents like me manage at that rate?” she queried.

The current situation has arisen because of various factors which include the lifting of the ban on export of mealie meal, a move that has seen most farmers transferring their stock to the export market where the commodity is fetching far much more than on the local market.

As a free market economy, there is nothing wrong with government allowing traders to sell their maize locally or on an international market where there are competitive prices.

This is well and good, especially for the farmers who were not happy with the K70 offered per 50 kg bag of maize that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) had been offering farmers.

Like any good business would do, the farmers have opted to export their maize and this has had direct impact on the local market, with the resultant effect being an immediate increase in the mealie meal prices. This is because millers are also getting the maize at a higher price than before.

It is for this reason that we feel government needs to offer some buffer to the millions of Zambia whose staple food is mealie meal.

If this means banning the export of maize again, so be it.

The important thing here is to ensure that locals are getting affordable mealie meal. Whatever intervention is necessary should be taken to ensure the mealie meal remains affordable to majority Zambians.

The FRA should off load more maize to help local millers lower prices of mealie meal. This is to ensure that the low income bracket of the population are not left behind and can afford a meal a day.

The cries from the people are genuine and should be heeded. This is more so for those in the informal sector whose weekly income may not be enough to afford a bag of mealie meal going for K100 and above. A hungry nation is an angry one.

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