RETAIL prices for mealie-meal in Lusaka have hit K92 per 25 kilogramme bag of breakfast meal despite combined efforts by the government and millers to reduce the price of the commodity.
On November 11, agriculture minister, Given Lubinda, said the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) would immediately make available maize grain to millers, and would enter into legally binding contracts with millers who are interested in participating in a voluntary maize-buying programme.
The government’s concessionary measure was aimed at helping millers access cheaper maize that would help bring down the skyrocketing mealie-meal prices for 25Kg bags to K55 and K70 for roller and breakfast respectively.
But a check around several outlets in Lusaka on Tuesday revealed that the retail price for the staple food remains stubbornly high, ranging from K74.99 to as high as K92.00 for breakfast in some places.
At Kabwata market, mealie-meal prices were pegged at K92 for a 25 kg bag of Simba, while Pembe and Dariyaye Milling’s Champion brand were found at K87 and K88 respectively.
Traders spoken to said business had been difficult this year as consumers were feeling the pinch of having to fork out huge amounts to order mealie-meal.
“Prices are up, so business is not as it used to be before the increment. Very few customers are buying,” Lawrence Chanakira said in an interview.
“I am not quite sure if prices would reduce any time soon, maybe if we go for orders, that is when we can know about that. Let us wait and see how it is going to be. As far as we are concerned, I am sure they [prices] will remain the same.”
While Shoprite Manda Hill was selling 25 kg breakfast bags of National, Superior Milling and Pembe at K74.99, Melissa Supermarket in Northmead pegged prices of Choma Milling at K79.00, with the APG brand at K76.00.
Pick ‘n’ Pay in Woodlands area found the same brands pegged at K77.65, while the Star Milling brand was selling at K76.35. The shelves revealed that there were more bags of breakfast left as customers opted to settle for cheaper roller meal.
And a check at Spar Arcades on Wednesday found prices for 25 kg breakfast bags above K75.00, with Pembe and Star Milling roller prices at K60.00, while prices at Chelstone market for 25 kg breakfast bags were above K85.00, with roller meal also above K60.00
The national average price of a 25Kg bag of breakfast in November was K79.63, an increase from K71.92 in October, according to the Central Statistical Office (CSO).