Zambia is bracing itself for a significant increase in the prices of mealie meal, a staple food in the country. The current market prices for a 25-kilogram bag of breakfast mealie meal range from approximately K170 for the lowest prices to around K220 for the higher average prices. However, it is projected that these prices will surge by about 60% to reach approximately K270 and K350 per 25kg bag.
The anticipated price hike follows the announcement by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) that they have increased the purchase price of maize for strategic reserves by approximately 60%. Last year, the FRA was purchasing maize at K180 per 50kg bag, but this year, they have raised the purchase price to K280 per 50kg bag of maize.
The recent increase in the cost of inputs, coupled with the removal of subsidies on fuel and electricity tariffs, may further contribute to the rise in mealie meal prices. As millers and traders pass on these additional costs to consumers, it is possible that the price for a 25kg bag of mealie meal could exceed the projected K270.
Farmers, who have been grappling with low maize purchase prices from the FRA, are yet to reach a consensus on whether the current price is profitable for them. The lack of public disclosure regarding the computation of production costs has hindered farmers from making an informed assessment. However, it is worth noting that the FRA prices set a minimum price threshold that even farmers not benefiting from fertilizer and seed subsidies will have to contend with.
While the initial indications suggest that the FRA’s price is an improvement compared to last year, some farmers have reported inadequate inputs, with late delivery being a recurring issue during the previous farming season.
The cost of living in Zambia has escalated due to high fuel costs, which have had a cascading effect on the overall economic cost structure. As experts conduct detailed analyses of production costs and the cost of living, more information will become available to shed light on the implications of these price increases.
It is important for stakeholders, including the government, farmers, millers, and consumers, to closely monitor the situation and engage in open dialogue to ensure the availability and affordability of mealie meal, a crucial food source for the Zambian population.