Millers ponder price hike…

MillingTHE Millers Association of Zambia says millers will meet to discuss a possible mealie-meal price hike following the recent increase in fuel prices.

The Energy Regulation Board (ERB) on Monday adjusted the pump price of petroleum products by K1.13 for petrol, K1.00 for diesel and K0.72 for kerosene.

Petrol now costs K9.87 per litre from the previous K8.74, while diesel is now selling at K8.59 per litre from K7.59. Kerosene has been pegged at K6.12 per litre from K5.40 previously.

Following the fuel price changes, MAZ executive director Harrison Banda said millers intend to meet to discuss the cost implications of the fuel price hike, with an increase in mealie-meal prices being an option.

“I need to consult the members to get their views as each miller has a cost structure. We are having a meeting mid next week and I will be able to give you a position on that. We are just harvesting the new crop; normally when the maize is in abundant supply, the demand for mealie meal comes down and you have to take that into account,” he said.

And Banda said millers were negatively affected by the continued load-shedding and are planning to meet Zesco to explore avenues to assist the industry cope with the pressure.

“We are planning to meet Zesco to see how best they could assist the milling industry because it [load-shedding] is increasing the production losses. We are being affected just like any other industry,” added Banda.

Agriculture deputy minister Maxus Ngonga told Parliament yesterday that the government, under the Presidential Milling Plant Initiative, will facilitate the development of milling plants close to the production areas in all the 10 provinces.

“The plan involves setting up 10 milling plants in all 10 provinces as well as small solar powered milling plants. The small solar powered plants will be managed by the cooperatives. The programme aims to ensure that value addition is done near production areas. This will also help reduce the cost of living among our consumers,” said Ngonga, in a response to a question raised by Kalabo Central UPND member of parliament, Chinga Miyutu, on the setting up of milling plants across the country.
Miyutu wanted to know when the government would facilitate the setting up of maize milling plants in provincial and district centres to ensure low prices of mealie-meal

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