Opinion

OPINION: Nkhani Ya Ka Unga

The past two weeks have seen Zambians from every aspect of society complaining bitterly about the rising cost of mealie meal on the market. A 25 kilogramme bag of breakfast that we not so long ago used at buy at an average price of K85 has now skyrocketed to an average of K150 in Lusaka, and in some areas like Livingstone, it is being sold at around K170 in Spar.

About two to three months ago, a 25kg bag of Pembe breakfast mealie meal was being sold at around K85 to K90 in Woodlands area but today, it is K145 to K150! This is quite an astronomical increase ever seen in this country.

This is how bad it has gotten. Mealie meal is our staple food and touches the very core of any Zambian’s needs. Mess with mealie meal and you are almost messing with the entire nation! That is how it works in this country and that is how it used to be even during first president Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s days. Maize and mealie meal are highly political commodities that require careful handling by whoever is in the government. It is the same issue in South Africa where the price of a 25 kilogramme bag is now almost K200.

What has gone wrong now for us to be where we are? Through the Vice-President Ms Inonge Wina, Minister of Agriculture Mr Michael Katambo and Home Affairs Minister Mr Stephen Kampyongo, the government, over a week ago, made mention of some of the measures it was going to put in place to ensure reduced mealie meal prices. The government said it is unacceptable that millers can be selling mealie meal at exorbitant prices when maize is readily available on the market. But how much is this maize being sold at to the millers? A 50 kilogramme of maize is being bought for as high as K170, way above the Food Reserve Agency price for the same quantity. Because of this, farmers have opted selling their maize to private buyers to get a reasonable return on their investment. To us, this is what has contributed greatly to the rising prices of mealie meal, with other factors such as climate change that affected maize production in areas that are key producers.

If we look at prices of farming inputs currently prevailing on the market, we will see that the price at which a 50 kilogramme bag of maize is being sold is actually reflective of the cost of producing that maize. Right now, a bag of fertilizer is going for around K400. And some farmers require need not less than 40 bags of this fertilizer (basal and top dressing) to produce a reasonable amount of crop for sale to the Food Reserve Agency and probably private buyers. Don’t forget the seed, plus other labour costs for tilling the land until cultivation of the crops! At that cost of inputs and other labour that goes into producing crops, do we expect our farmers to walk away with peanuts? Of course not! They will sell their produce at whatever price is attractive for them to get a return on their investment. Remember that farming is a business and Zambia is a free market economy, meaning whoever offers the best price will take it all. And right now, the private sector has offered the best price for the maize, which is giving the farmers a reasonable return on their investments.

And the government has reaffirmed its policy position on maize and mealie meal marketing that it will not interfere with this sector and let the market dictate the price. Therefore, there is only one way to get the price of mealie meal down – reduce the cost of producing maize! Zambia has more than enough capacity to produce fertilizer from our Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia. What is happening there? Secondly, Kabwe has a fertilizer plant established by the Chinese? How can we utilize that to reduce prices of the commodity? These are things we need to begin to look at and address as a matter of urgency if we want to see the price of mealie meal reduced.

 

Lastly, diversification is another answer. Over-reliance on maize is not doing the agriculture sector any good. We need to begin to look at ways of increasing production of rice, cassava, millet and other crops, which we can adopt as our main foods.

59 Comments

  1. Lundazi voice

    Maize our staple food,maize our political weapone 2 ruling party 2 b removed frm power. If drought can go on after pf lose who is 2 blame 4 poor rainfall those in govt no, it is climate change. About some district did wel while southern and western wast hitted by dought but some part of lusaka. We need idea 2 over come drought next year 2 avoid more talkative politicans

    • Mumba Kenneth

      Nkani ya kaunga yes it is true meal meal can go up. It is so for the following reasons 1 draught we experienced mor especially southern province nothing has been harvested from southern province the what do you expected to the Price of maize and meal meal .to go up.
      2. What can happen if the selling of maize by farmers is up ( increased) will the meal meal cost the same. Definitely it can’t cost the same.
      3 demand and supply this also has an effect on the Price , when a lot of people are looking or chasing few good s what do you expect to the Price .obviously the Price will go up . since in the last farming season not much maize was produced we have to find an increase in meal meal.
      3 Also out side forces neighbouring countries brings shortage of the commodity then result is high price.
      Politicians opposition parties they should not cheat people by gaining political popularity by saying they sell meal meal at the low price when draught is felt . The only suggestion to the hard working government is just to lobby for money Cromwell wishes . and that money should be used to subsidies the meal meal. Other for the opposition this is to your advantage to gained political milage not by insulting the ruling government and the president. Have Human heart buy meal meal outside Zambia by following proper channel from the government of the day and supply that meal to where ever their are people have no food. Font command the government what to do . this is a working government . it can’t let people die with hunger. The opposition you have talked too much that people are dying southern province . pls give us the statistics of those have died but we are aware that our brothers and sister are hungry are in hunger in southern province that why relief meal meal is being taken

    • Mumba Kenneth

      Nkani ya kaunga yes it is true meal meal can go up. It is so for the following reasons 1 draught we experienced mor especially southern province nothing has been harvested from southern province the what do you expected to the Price of maize and meal meal .to go up.
      2. What can happen if the selling of maize by farmers is up ( increased) will the meal meal cost the same. Definitely it can’t cost the same.
      3 demand and supply this also has an effect on the Price , when a lot of people are looking or chasing few good s what do you expect to the Price .obviously the Price will go up . since in the last farming season not much maize was produced we have to find an increase in meal meal.
      3 Also out side forces neighbouring countries brings shortage of the commodity then result is high price.
      Politicians opposition parties they should not cheat people by gaining political popularity by saying they sell meal meal at the low price when draught is felt . The only suggestion to the hard working government is just to lobby for money from well wishers. and that money should be used to subsidies the meal meal. Otherwise for the opposition this is to your advantage to gained political milage not by insulting the ruling government and the president. Have Human heart buy meal meal outside Zambia by following proper channel from the government of the day and supply that meal to where ever there are people no food. Do not command the government what to do . this is a working government . it can’t let people die with hunger. The opposition you have talked too much that people are dying southern province . pls give us the statistics of those have died but we are aware that our brothers and sister are hungry are in hunger in southern province that why relief meal meal is being taken. HH this is the time to make you strong hold to be more stronger . use you all your investment to feed southern province not you enjoying cake butter while your brother and sister is sleeping on an empty stomach. He east when ECL government remembers them while you are close to them

    • Agronomist

      Zambians should get used to buying mealie meal at economic prices to enable the country remain food secure. Farmers are in poverty not because they are lazy or government is not working but because lazy urban population want low priced food at the expense of the welfare of farmers.

    • Andrew

      The price of mealie meal should reduce🙏🙏🙏

    • Jeanclaude

      Be reasonable and stop the hallucination . U are behaving like an embercile

    • bom

      You’re right and because of charcoal burning trees are deforestated but govt should say something.

    • Truth@93.

      lundazi voice did you think twice when commenting….how does it become climates expense when they mismanaged what was in stock…do you think this is the first tym we have had droughts in zambia…restrict your comments if your are commenting to impress

  2. Kkayoo

    Ka unga Tefintu nomba pa Zedd

  3. Manex rich

    Kadula kaunga mwandi but its good for the farmers they will produce most of it this 2019/20 season & it will be cheaper again,as for now the rains didn’t do as a favour,its high time we build dams across the country. So that we can withstand the climate change issues

  4. Manex rich

    Its difficult to blame the government on these Price’s of maize,the market forces are controlling the situation, remember Zambia is a free market economy

    • hichika

      Whether it’s drought or government. The fact is that we have to change the government

  5. sthembile

    at least you guys you are even getting a bag of 25kg of breakfast only at k150 = &15. but us in south africa its now some places &20 = k200. i don’t know were we are heading to in africa

  6. Manyenje

    Every which goes wrong we blame. because they can control everything in this Nation. They forgot that 2021 is coming soon. how can we suffer will like this while we have propoor govt in place. PF they need to check their manifest and Evaluate if they have achieved wht thy promised pipo.

  7. FK

    l really wonder what measures the government puts in place when determining the maize flow price. last season farmers danced to the government’s tune when it mockingly announced that a 50kg bag of maize be sold for a song of k60 to favour those in urban areas. In this regard consider the expenses farmers incur when procuring inputs. This in turn devastated farmers such that others resorted to growing cotton and other cash crops that seemed the better payoff resulting in the scarcity of our staple food.

  8. Margret Folowisa

    Sivintu…no eating nsima…unga niwaba rich manje

  9. Nki

    Fuck the government

  10. Diego

    This is what happens when you have a poor leadership

  11. Avicii

    Mwebaleya ku Lusaka!

  12. Kicks

    Now it is strictly no visitors, no keeping dogs at home, naikosako. Mwebatemwa ukwikala mu mayanda ya banenu muibwelemo, ati ukutandala, amatako panshi.

  13. Ng'ambi misheck

    Whatever you do to day ,you must think what is coming next

  14. Chief Mumbo

    The Best reason is that the food reserve agency was failing to provide and supply fertilizer to the district of Zambia.Climate can’t be claim always as if whole country were in droughts.Look at Muchinga province people use to fight and struggling for fertilizer or other uses corruption to get fertilizer and some of them they have lost the money they pay to the Cooperative.The other way which affecting farmers of Zambia is the rate time to get their Money.Last the FRA when they corrected Maize to the farmers they went and came back with ATM card which they gave to the farmers and lies to them that we are going to send you the money in these ATM but people waited until 5 month.So how can you improve if you are a farmer and please stop lying to farther in rulo area and remember that farmers are the main body of the country.
    Chief Mumbo
    Don’t Steal Mwibala

  15. Jay j

    Government with less plan.. only 2021 wil tel

  16. SEE MIND (MWAMPO)

    DONT WORRY ALL EATEN NSHIMA JUST WAIT 2021 MEALIE MEAL ALL VOTERS WILL HELP US TO RISE VOTES WISELY MEALIE MEAL WE WILL PUT SYMBOL FOR CHASE PF GOVERNMENT 2021 ALERT PF FIRE OUT 2021 !!!

  17. Vaal mula

    Akabunga kalibashupako Bamudala nobo

  18. Jackson

    Parable s and prophecies are their to help us interpret the current time

  19. enalo

    Millers must not cheat customers on bran gaga remilled for for roller. mille a mill is DIRTY not meeting standards for human consumption. We want roller standards to come from maize and grain and not from from bran GAGA.

  20. enalo

    Millers must not cheat customers on bran gaga remilled for roller. mille a mill is DIRTY not meeting standards for human consumption.
    We want roller standards to come from maize and grain and not from from bran GAGA. We don’t enjoy eating the so called roller.

  21. Alexander

    Pf, is corrupt govt. they ve failled to run this country. let’s change the govt in 2021.

  22. OLD MZEE

    It is high time we also consider eating other foods like Cassava,Millet Orgum finger millet Nshima other alternatives like rice,wheat yarms and potatoes are equally good and nutritious.
    People in Western,North Western Copperbelt,Luapula and Northern Province eat Cassava.East Africans eat green Bananas,From Congo to west Africa they eat Cassava and Yamus (FUfu)South Africans also have a wide varied including Meal sample.
    Please let us change our eating habits and swallow our pride.
    Whether we change government or not it will not solve the climate change and or eating habits

  23. Bamwine

    Too bad for dudumwezi people there was no rain,they did not vote correctly and again the Mealie meal prices are skyrocketing like this.boma ilanganepo.

  24. Jona

    It is only God who can help the nation.

  25. WISE

    ONLY THOSE WO TRUST 2 OUR LIVING GOD AD FEAR HIM SHAL BE SAVD 4RM DIZ BURNING FIRE HUNGER, BY DE GRACE V GOD WE SHAL NT DIE , IF WE BELIEVE AD TURN 4RM WORSHPNG OTHER gODs, THOSE WO KWNS HW 2 READ, READ MATHEWS 24 VS 1———- DE TIME Z NEAR 4 JESUS 2 COME WOKE UP 4RM SLUMBER, NAPITAAAA, NA NDAIINDA.

  26. Edwardo

    Thé issue is quite tricky, who should bear the blame ? Offcourse not a farmer who has been exploited for so long. A Miller on the other hand can not be blamed due to the fact that the price of maize has gone up. I think the problem is starting from the price of fertilizer and maize seeds. The price of these two commodities is what has caused the high prices of mealie meal. I believe the government will do something to bring down the price of mealie meal.

  27. Charles

    I agree with you opinion. The price of mealie meal can not reduce taking into account the high cost of producing maize. If Government wants to reduce the price of mealie meal it has to re-introduce subsides. It could use funds allocated to FISP.
    I thought FISP should have brought down the cost of producing maize by farmers. In my view the FISP appear to have failed. In 2018 budget Government allocated K1,785,000,000.00 and K1,428,000,000.00 in 2019 for FISP. I suggest Government does away with FISP and finds a another way of providing cheap agriculture inputs to all farmers in the country and not a selected few.

  28. Patrick

    The gvt is trying the best. Come down nation pliz

  29. Cross jempa

    Another reason why mealie meal z keeping increasing z dat the government failed to pay the farmers their money in time,so most of them have been failed to cultivate due to lack of money,then as zambZam what do we expect to be, mealie meal will keep on encreasing

  30. Central power

    We will use ubunga to wipe someone from his office.

  31. Daniel

    Economy is bad

  32. FARMER

    the main problem is that gvt is not buying maize at a competative price n pay farmers in good time 2 incourage farming look at the cost of farming n look at the prace the gvt offers,

  33. Godwin

    No ka unga,no tandalee,no pempha,Nkhani ni ya struight,unga wadula.

  34. Jones

    Just think what you should do about it because we cannot buying meali meal at a high price,umfwileniko abanenu uluse mwipalanya kubabomba nabashibomba tukalamilya ifwe?muleikalafye ngamulafimbilwa.all PF will see on 2021 muzaonelako

  35. Musanya Samuel

    You are right the government is sleeping on duty

  36. Kawaya Waya

    I am an Accountant at a milling plant in Lusaka. We are buying maize at K3.55 per kg or K177.25 , 50kg plus other running costs such as electricity, fuel, salaries, royalties etc. Kindly ask the Zambian government at how much we should sell per 25kg breakfast of mealie meal. Next week we shall be selling our 25kg breakfast at K160 (factory price). Good luck !!!!!!!!!!

  37. enalo

    ordinal Zambian has gone for roller made from bra regroundef to Millie meal yet price skyrocketed too. I returned first bag expected to proper roller. alternative bag same. MILLERS to sale PROPER ROLLER . GAGA BRAN so called roller not good for people.

  38. King

    So no 3 meals pa Zed????.. Naivundula… Let’s do a ka 1991 formuler KK vs Ubuzi

  39. eugenekafwan

    let’s put everything in hands of almight God. Coz no one can help us.

  40. Kwendanayesu

    Worst goverment ever….

  41. Ken zee

    Comment opposition parties have got alot of money,why can’t they put their hands together and fight for the mealie meal problem.why do you want us to give you our votes?if you want us to vote for you, can you please help us now as are suffering.

  42. Franz

    Let The Govt pump more funds in Zambia National Service And Correctional Centre So That They Start Grow The Grains Throughout A Year Than Empowering Only Peasant Farmer.It Will Reduce Price Of Staple Food.

  43. kondwani banda

    economy is bad the government should do something to the price of mealie meal ,

  44. Graham

    put farmers first in national budget u people. u know zambians we like a nshma.invest much in agriculture and this issue of an increase in the price of meali meal will never be talked about.give farmers fertilizer on time,pay them fast impress them ,movativat them by supplying them the farming imputs on time.u know these people we should be caring them.on the issue of c limate yes we understand ,we did not receive much rainfall but as government try any possible measures to lessen the price of mealie meal. try to reverse subside may be it will help.otherwise this not the time to start pointing

    fingers at each other but think of remedies toward the price of mealie meal.

  45. Tasila lungu

    These stupid politicians are using kaunga as a weapon to gain political favour this man has a lot of shares in other companies but how come the prices are still high takatekepo satanist

  46. Maxwell

    Plz plz!!! Our govt help us and has if maize isn’t our staple food here in Zambia.

  47. Peter mhone

    Vote HH

  48. FREEMANYONA K.SWAG.EMPIRE

    1 ZAMBIA…. 1 NATION.1.UNGA..K150
    Awe kachilamo ka unga sure how are we going to savive and save money

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