National strategic food reserve is sufficiently stocked – Mtolo Phiri


National strategic food reserve is sufficiently stocked – Mtolo

By Walusungu Lundu

IF the maize supplied to millers by Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has only been supplied onto the local market prices of mealie meal would have stabilised with no risk of having abnormal prices on the local market, agriculture minister Rueben Mtolo Phiri has said stressing that national strategic food reserves are sufficiently stocked.

Mtolo said it is clear from what is obtaining that the maize that FRA has been releasing on the market has found itself exported either in raw form or as mealie meal.

He said the FRA has continuously been releasing maize on the market to ensure constant supply of mealie meal by the millers.

Meanwhile, Mtolo disclosed that FRA is currently holding 342,135.52 metric tonnes of white maize as strategic grain reserves.

Addressing the media on Friday, Mtolo said 173,282.04 metric tonnes from the mentioned figure is already committed, leaving a net balance of 168,853.48 metric tonnes to last the remaining months before the next harvest.

In order to mitigate against the risk of mealie meal prices increasing further, Mtolo revealed that the government has among other measures enhanced the monitoring of borders to ensure no illegal exports are taking place.

The continued off-loading of the maize to selected millers who are expected to supply the local market and the continue selling of maize to districts under the rural vulnerable communities’ initiative to protect household food security are also among the measures the government has put up.

Other measures are considering importation of maize from other countries to prevent any shortfall and engaging other private players that may have maize stocks to ensure they contribute to meeting the local demand before exporting.

“Therefore, I wish to indicate that the national strategic food reserve is sufficiently stocked and that the country has adequate capacity to address any short to medium term threats to the stability of the mealie meal prices,” he said. “Notwithstanding the position stated above, the ministry has observed the continued shortages of the mealie meal commodity in certain areas. This situation is not justified given the assurance based on the reserves and government’s continued release of the commodity. I therefore, urge all the players in the maize and mealie meal market to act in the interest of the country so that integrity and ethical behaviour can prevail. Allow me to reiterate once more that government’s number one priority is to ensure and guarantee food and nutrition security of all the people of Zambia. To this end, government when and if necessary will put measures that will uphold and safeguard the interests of its citizenry.”

Mtolo said despite the challenge caused by the illegal export of maize and mealie meal, the government is confident that the actions that would be undertaken will stabilise the prices to ensure that hunger is averted.


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