DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka
THE Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) has agreed to offload 245,000 metric tonnes of maize to millers country-wide to lower the price of mealie-meal.
The maize will be released on the market between January and May this year.
The grain traders made the agreement at a meeting which was attended by Ministry of Agriculture officials, GTAZ representatives and millers in Lusaka on Friday.
Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya said in an interview yesterday that GTAZ agreed to offload the maize to millers at a lower price.
â€œGTAZ had intended to sell the maize to Zimbabwe at a much higher price compared to the local price, but because of the ban, they have agreed to instead offload it to the millers,â€ Ms Siliya said.
Ms Siliya said Government negotiated for a lower price that will enable the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to buy maize from GTAZ at K2,650 per metric tonne and sell it to the millers at K2,200 per metric tonne.
â€œGTAZ had agreed to sell the maize at K2,600 per metric tonne but after further negotiations, we offered to buy the maize through FRA at K2,650. This translates into a subsidy of about K20 from Government and the 80 percent will be covered by the stakeholders in this agreement. The move will lessen pressure on the treasury,â€ she said.
She said the deal is a good one because it will lead to a drop in the mealie-meal price down to not more than K85 per 25kg.
Ms Siliya said with the GTAZ deal in place, the current stock is enough, adding that FRA has about 310,000 metric tonnes of maize in its storage.
She said the 310,000 metric tonnes are a combination of the 21,000 metric tonnes spill-over from last year and another 290,000 metric tonnes purchased in the last marketing season.
Currently, the maize pricing in Zimbabwe stands at US$330 per metric tonne.
And Ms Siliya said Government will not lift the ban on maize exports anytime soon.
Due to severe drought in the Southern African region, Zambia, the only country other than Tanzania to produce a maize surplus in the 2015/2016 farming season, will maintain a ban on maize exports as it struggles to build strategic reserves amid rising prices and surging regional demand.
DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka