December 1, 2008

Zambian grain silos release reserve corns for sale


Zambia's state-owned grain storage facility known as the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has released 20,000 tonnes of corn on the market, APA learnt in Lusaka on Friday.


The move follows spiralling costs of the maize grain on the market which has in turn pushed up the prices of processed corn commonly referred to here as "mealie meal" in retail outlets.


Mealie meal is the country's staple food, and government has been under pressure to stabilise prices of the product.


The FRA buys corn grain from mainly peasant farmers across the country and keeps these in storage for strategic purposes.


The country, which earlier in the year reported a corn surplus has, however, inexplicably run out of the grain, pushing up prices.


Agriculture Minister Brian Chituwo has in response to growing pressure ordered the FRA to release 20,000 tonnes of the grain it has in storage.


The grain will be sold to milling companies for processing into mealie meal, which government hopes will bring the food prices down.


The government has also ordered the FRA to import 100,000 tonnes of white non-GM corn grain from South Africa to ensure that the country's strategic reserves of grain were not jeopardised.


Government has come under criticism for exporting corn to countries such as Zimbabwe earlier this year and then running out of the grain only months later.

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