Price reduction solution found

Price reduction solution found

ZAMBIANS should expect to buy cheaper mealie-meal by Thursday this week following a tremendous increase in the number of milling companies to receive subsidised maize from the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) from a paltry seven to 33.
The millers have this time around pledged to flood all the 10 provinces with cheaper mealie-meal, whose price currently ranges between K90 and K100 for a 25kg bag of breakfast meal in urban areas.
This comes as a result of the tripartite agreement between Government, through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) and GTAZ.
Under the pact, the grain traders will offload 248,000 tonnes of maize to the millers, who will process it into cheaper mealie-meal as the tripartite price-busting strategy takes root.
MAZ president Andrew Chintala said in an interview yesterday the three parties recently carried out a postmortem of the performance of the February contracts which were signed by the seven millers.
On his return from Israel at the beginning of this month, President Lungu expressed disappointment that despite the arrangement, mealie-meal was still selling around K100 instead of between K75 and K85 wholesale as expected and called for a review of the arrangement to make it more effective.
Mr Chintala said the review revealed that the initiative made little impact on the pricing structure of the staple food because the quantity of subsidised maize was too small.
He said the stakeholders concluded that the number of millers on the programme should be increased significantly if the impact is to be felt country-wide.
“After reviewing the performance of the first contracts where we were trying to check if the programme had worked in terms of achieving the desired results, we realised that the impact had not been felt because many millers had been left out. And out of the seven that participated, five were from Lusaka thereby disadvantaging those in other provinces,” Mr Chintala said.
He said the proposal by MAZ was that the number of millers on the programme and the quantity of maize they would be given should be increased.
Mr Chintala said both proposals have been accepted and that millers started receiving their contracts last Friday.
He said the programme now includes millers from North-Western, Western, Southern, Luapula, Copperbelt and Northern provinces, among others.
“I am confident that with the inclusion of these other millers, people will be able to appreciate the outcome as cheaper mealie-meal will be offloaded because by Wednesday, the millers would have received their maize. We expect to meet the desired impact,” Mr Chintala said.
He said the K75 and K85 respective prices for Roller and Breakfast meal were wholesale prices.
Retailers will be expected to sell the commodity at between K85 and K90.
And a survey has revealed that mealie-meal prices now average K90 in various supermarkets in Lusaka from the K100 it was fetching before the tripartite arrangement was signed.
A 25 kilogramme breakfast bag of Superior mealie-meal in Pick n Pay was yesterday selling at K91 and roller meal at K80.
In Shoprite stores across Lusaka, Superior breakfast meal was at K95 while roller meal was K75.
National Milling breakfast was selling at K89 while roller meal is K73.
But at Kabwata market, Simba breakfast mealie-meal was fetching K100 while roller was selling at K80.
Some areas, especially supermarket chains have been receiving the subsidised mealie meal and selling it at a lower price while the retailers in the townships seem to be cashing in on the arrangement by inflating the prices.
And Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) executive director James Chirwa says the installation of 2,000 milling plants at a cost of US$200 million which was supposed to be completed in June this year will only be completed in October because of some logistical challenges, NANCY SIAME reports from Lusaka.
Mr Chirwa said in Lusaka yesterday 250 units have already been installed countrywide while 200 units arrived on Friday and that there installation would start immediately.
“We expect to be receiving units every 30 to 40 days which should make us complete installations by October,” Mr Chirwa said.


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