ZAMBIA – The government of Zambia has reached an agreement with the Zambia National Service (ZNS) to release cheaper mealie meal on the local market to cushion the current high mealie meal prices.

Speaking during a media briefing, Chief Government Spokesperson, Cornelius Mweetwa, said the cheaper mealie meal would be offloaded on the local market starting with all the Shoprite outlets in Lusaka and later taken to other provinces.

According to Mweetwa, the move comes in the wake of concerns from stakeholders on the high mealie meal prices that have recently characterized the country. He revealed that the mealie meal would be unleashed on the market starting October 15, 2023.

The mealie meal will be available at K230 for a 25-kilogram bag of breakfast and K190 for a 25-kilogram bag of roller meal.

“Zambians will now start buying affordable mealie meal in all ShopRite stores across the country with a 25kg breakfast fetching K230 while a 25kg Roller will be fetching K190,” Mweetwa said.

In September, during the official opening of the third session of the thirteenth National Assembly, President Hakainde Hichilema expressed concern about the rising cost of the country’s staple promising to find a solution.

According to Hichilema, consumers were buying a 25 kilogram (kg) of mealie meal between K270 and K320, depending on their location.

Hichilema attributed this situation to immense pressure on Zambia’s maize due to regional and global supply deficits arising from factors such as climate change and instability in some parts of the world.

“We are very aware of this situation; we are very concerned about this situation and we are doing everything possible to stabilize the price of our staple commodity called maize.”

Mweetwa said that the government arrived at the cost after taking into consideration all expenses on production by ZNS hence the plant would not be making losses.

He said ZNS will be producing 11,500 bags of breakfast mealie meal and 4,100 bags of roller meal to meet the daily national average of the commodity for Zambians.

The move does not in any way discourage competition among those selling mealie meal but just rationalizing the price of the country’s stable food,” said Mr. Mweetwa.

Mweetwa warned people who intend to buy in bulk for the sake of re-selling that such actions would not be tolerated because this move was meant to stabilize the mealie meal prices on the local market.

“Maize and mealie meal exports are still banned so all those who are thinking of buying and stockpiling in anticipation that the government would lift the ban should just offload their stock on the market,” he said.