Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge sounded the warning yesterday in the wake of the price of mealie-meal going up in most outlets countrywide on average by K5 000.
Mr Musenge said millers should take into consideration the poverty levels among most Zambians, coupled with high unemployment, making it difficult to afford the staple food.
“They should realise that this is a matter of life and death. The millers have to take into account the affordability to purchase the commodity because already very few people could afford to buy the mealie meal at the old price,” he said.
The Copperbelt Minister said Government was fully aware that the millers were in it for business and would not want to suffocate their business but they should look at the multiplier effects of increasing the price of mealie-meal anyhow.
He appealed to all parties involved to ensure that the issue of the recently increased mealie meal prices be resolved expeditiously, taking on board the views of the voiceless and poor citizens who are the major consumers of the commodity.
“A lasting solution has to be found so that we come up with the best mealie-meal prices that will be appreciated by the millers and the consumers of the mealie-meal whom as a Government we have a duty to feed,” he said.
The Copperbelt Minister also announced that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) had started paying farmers in the region and appealed to farmers to exercise a lot of patience as the agency cleared their dues.
Mr Musenge said farmers must understand that the agency had bought huge quantities of maize during the last farming season and that it would take long to pay all of them but that since the payment process had begun, they should not despair.
Of the K45 billion worth of maize the FRA bought on the Copperbelt, the agency has so far paid out K9 billion. / Times of Zambia