ZAMBIA – In a bid to supplement Government’s effort to ensure that mealie-meal supply is equal to demand in Zambia, African Milling Limited is expected to enter into a retail supply agreement with various chain stores in the country.

The chain stores include Choppies, Pick n Pay and Shoprite among others.

This comes months after the miller commissioned its newly installed maize mill with a capacity of 336T/24H and 50,000T storage, increasing its capacity from the previous 168/MT and reduced the price of mealie meal in the market on the back of rising shortage.

With the rising shortage, the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) is engaging Government to devise ways in which the looming mealie-meal shortage in Lusaka could be averted.

MAZ president Andrew Chintala said a survey conducted by the association revealed that most of the shops had run out of the commodity.

He attributed the shortage to some millers shutting down milling plants on account of lack of maize to continue milling, creating a gap in the supply of the commodity.

He also expressed concern at the escalating mealie meal prices on the local market, which now averaged K162.30 per 25Kg breakfast bag, according to Zambia Statistics Agency (ZSA) data.

But Food Reserve Agency (FRA) chief executive officer Chola Kafwabulula has insisted that the Agency has continuously been releasing maize to millers in line with existing agreements to ensure stable supply of the commodity, according to News Diggers.

The government has also formulated other strategies to avert the shortage effects such as the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) entered into an equity partnership with Kasama Milling owning 70% shares in the milling company in bid to reduce the mealie meal prices.

Through this partnership it intends to set up ten milling plants in rural districts requiring a capital injection of about US$38 million.

The government has been talking to possible financiers of which discussions have been progressive with a possibility of getting the needed funds. ZCF is pumping about K1.9 million (US$130,000) into the operations.