By SILUMESI MALUMO
GOVERNMENT has urged farmers to increase the production of maize to avoid the occurrence of high mealie meal prices.
Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo said there was a need for farmers to increase their production especially in the next farming season to stop the escalating mealie meal prices.
He said the high mealie meal prices had been caused by the reduced production of maize in Zambia.
“With regard to the maize industry, President, Edgar Lungu, has directed that we should increase maize production and make maize an export crop,” Mr Katambo said.
“The President believes that increased maize production will also lead towards mealie meal prices finding their own equilibrium, which will be affordable to an ordinary Zambian,” Mr Katambo said.
He said climate change was also a major factor hindering the growth of agriculture and that his ministry was working tirelessly to mitigate its effects.
Mr Katambo said the factors that had contributed to the decline in maize production were tackled.
“We just concluded the first phase of our consultations with the stakeholders. We have since developed an action plan that has detailed measures that will boost and transform the maize industry.
“What is pleasing is that the action plans are being developed and implemented together with the private sector since they are main players in the industry,” Mr Katambo said.
What had emerged during the consultations with the private sector was that solutions were known, but what had been missing was the implementation and the courage to do something different.
Early this week, President Lungu directed Mr Katambo to meet millers and come up with a joint solution to the ever rising prices of mealie meal, Zambia’s staple food.