By PETER SICHALI
LOCAL millers in Isoka have appealed to Government to enforce the ban on the export of maize and mealie meal to arrest the increase in the price of mealie meal.
Vichili Vikwiza Milling Limited director Elijah Sinkolongo said in an interview there was need for Government to quickly move in and put measures in place to stop illegal export of maize to neighbouring countries.
Mr Sinkolongo said most areas in Muchinga Province did not record a good harvest this year as compared to previous seasons.
Therefore, allowing the export of the commodity without any control measures would plunge the country into hunger.
Mr Sinkolongo said the rate at which maize was being illegally exported to Tanzania and Malawi daily was worrying.
“As local millers we are very concerned about the rate at which export of maize is happening here in Isoka and neighbouring districts like Nakonde and Mafinga. Dozens of truckloads of the country’s staple food are leaving the country to Tanzania and Malawi when mealie meal prices have skyrocketed,” Mr Sinkolongo said.
He said some regions in the country did not receive enough rain during the last rainy season resulting in hunger.
The country could therefore not continue allowing the export of maize without any control.
Mr Sinkolongo said the export of maize had already spiraled the prices of maize on the local market.
He said a gallon of the white grain was fetching K12 and was likely to increase further if exports were allowed to continue.
Mr Sinkolongo said dozens of foreign brief case buyers from Malawi and Tanzania had set up camps in Mafinga, Isoka and Nakonde to buy maize from local farmers at between K150 and K170 for a bag weighing 50 kilograms.
“What is worrying most is that the Food Reserve Agency may not meet their targets in these areas because foreign brief case buyers are buying the maize at a price higher than that of FRA,” Mr Sinkolongo said.
He said the prices of maize would escalate further if nothing was done to curtail exports.
Mr Sinkolongo advised retailers buying mealie meal from his company for resale not to exploit people by exaggerating the prices of the commodity.
He also advised other millers no to overprice the country’s staple food.