UPND Leader Hakainde Hichilema says it is strange that the country has a shortage of maize on market when Agriculture and Livestock Minister Given Lubinda assured the nation that there is enough maize.
Commenting on the impending increase in mealie meal prices by millers citing rising production costs and reduced quantities of the maize grain on the market, Mr Hichilema says the first mistake the PF Government made was to offer farmers a maize floor price of K75.00 per 50kg bag, which is K1,500 a ton or $120 at the current exchange rate.
Mr Hichilema says what the Government did not realize and ignored advice was that the informal traders had found a market which was offering them US$200 per ton.
He states that this led to massive maize exports by both formal and informal means.
The UPND leader laments that the mealie meal price increase come at a time when ZESCO is also proposing an increase in electricity tariffs, which will further increase production costs in addition to costs attributed to on-going massive electricity load shedding.
Mr Hichilema says while the food national balance sheet looks good on paper, there is no maize on the ground.
He has wondered how the majority Zambians will now survive with the ever raising cost of living coming at time when the mines are laying off workers, industries are closing; many are losing jobs and yet there is no action from those in leadership to address the situation.
Mr Hichilema states that his party has always advised on the need for those in Government to improve mealie meal production methods to improve productivity so that maize becomes cheaper to produce.