Government has committed to ensuring the Zambia National Service (ZNS) Milling Plants are steadily supplied with maize grain to guarantee predictable production and supply of mealie meal on the Zambian market.
The Minister of Information and Media, who is also the Chief Government Spokesperson, Honourable Cornelius Mweetwa said maintaining consistent supply of the grain was crucial to ensuring stable prices of mealie meal across the country.
Hon Mweetwa said steady supply of maize to the Service will also avert unnecessary suspicion of shortage of the country’s non Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) maize and mealie-meal.
“Government would like to assure the nation of sustainable and stable supply of maize to all ZNS milling plants which will be drawn from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) as well as local farmers to ensure affordable mealie-meal is offloaded to our citizens,” he said.
Hon Mweetwa was speaking on Wednesday when he, in the company of his Ministry of Defence counterpart Honourable Ambrose Lwiji Lufuma, the ZNS Commander Lieutenant General Maliti Solochi and the Millers Association of Zambia President Andrew Chintala, toured ZNS Monze milling plant in Southern Province.
The Minister urged stakeholders to desist from politicizing the country’s staple food which is an issue of national security.
He indicated that the country was poised to record a bumper harvest in the 2023/2024 farming season provided the recent encouraging rainfall pattern could be sustained and hoped that the promising yield should put an end to unnecessary criticism.
The Minister attributed his optimism to reports by maize seed producers had recorded unprecedentedly high sales.
Hon Mwetwa assured that the country was food secure, with the citizens accessing reliable grade-A non-Genetically Modified Organism (non-GMO) mealie meal.
And Hon Lufuma said ZNS milling plants which include; Chongwe in Lusaka, Mpika in Muchinga and Monze in Southern Provinces had been instrumental in supporting the Government’s thrust of ensuring fairly-priced meal was offloaded on the market.
The Minister was happy that the plant had also created jobs for the local community and enhanced business opportunities for transporters and retailers, who included the youth.
“This plant here was strategically placed to service the Southern part of this country. I must state that ZNS Eagles brand has a stabilizing effect on the mealie-meal prices on the market,” Hon Lufuma said.
He said apart from stimulating local farmers to produce enough maize in order to meet local milling demand, ZNS should also acquire enough parcels of land across the country to grow enough grain for the production of the staple commodity.
The Defence Minister disclosed that plans were also underway to construct more milling plants in each and every province in order to satisfy the high demand for the reasonably-priced Eagles milling brand.
”The rollout of such infrastructure is a deliberate programme by Government to stimulate the availability and affordability of mealie meal across the country. I am happy that ZNS has sustained the operations of this plant since commissioning in December, 2021,” the Hon Minister said.
And the Zambia National Service Commander Lieutenant General Maliti Solochi said the Service would remain committed to contributing to the country’s national food basket.
Meanwhile, Chief of Monze Milling Plant, Brigadier General Jim Kafumukache told the delegation that the plant had the capacity of producing 9,600 x 25 kilogramme bags per day.
He said with the support of ZNS-Allied Millers dotted around the country, the plant had been able to supply the staple product to not only Southern Province but also Central, Western and Copperbelt provinces.
“The wholesale price of breakfast mealie meal from the plant is currently pegged at K220 per bag, while that of roller meal is going at K180 per bag,” Brig Gen Kafumukache stated.