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UNZA takes on mealie-meal business

‘I HAVE tasted it. It is very smooth, and very, very nice. Once you taste it, you will stop buying other brands of mealie-meal.” These are the words of University of Zambia Vice-Chancellor Luke Evuta Mumba on the mealie meal produced by UNZA Milling and being sold at its recently launched sales point within the institution’s main campus on Great East Road. According to Prof Mumba, the mealie-meal befits the superlatives he used because “the Chinese technology of the milling plant is state-of-the-art technology that is not like any other ordinary milling plant”. The K26 million UNZA milling plant, which is situated some 20km east of Lusaka, in Chongwe district, is one of the three milling plants that the People’s Republic of China donated to the Zambian government through the presidential milling initiative. The other two, whose production capacity is 240 tons per day, are in Mpika and Monze. They are being managed by Zambia National Service (ZNS). “We requested this one, which is the smallest of the three, to be donated to UNZA so we can use it to develop and offer milling science training programmes in the School of Engineering so that we can have experts in running milling plants,” says Prof Mumba. He adds: “…also that when we train people, they can also go and work in other milling plants as professionals, while at the same time, use it to process maize products for income generation at the institution. We are under pressure to reduce our reliance on government grants.” Currently, it is only South Africa and Kenya that are offering programmes in milling science in the region.The milling plant has a production capacity of 40 tons per day, translating in a maximum of 800 bags of mealie-meal. The milling plant systems, whose construction works finished last year, have since been tested and gauged for effectiveness and efficiency. The plant is still yet to be officially commissioned.“We are currently using a generator to power the plant. The area [Liempe Farm] is yet to be supplied with electricity. We have already paid to Zesco and made numerous attempts to have it [power] connected there, but we have failed. Let me take this opportunity to appeal to them [Zesco], through you, that they connect power to the place,” he says. Prof Mumba says once Zesco connects electricity to the facility, it will be able to operate on a daily basis.The UNZA milling plant is currently producing breakfast mealie-meal (K135 per 25kg bag), roller mealie-meal (K100 per 25kg bag), and maize bran (K100 per 50kg). “…but our aspirations are CLICK TO READ MORE