The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has accused millers inflating mealie meal prices to coerce government to offload cheaper grain on the market.
“It is blackmail. There is no shortage. Millers are trying to force government to dip into strategic national reserves for their own benefit,” ZNFU President Jervis Zimba told local media.
Zimba said there were enough stocks on the market with a “marginal” increase in price to cover the costs of fumigation, storage and other related activities.
“Therefore, millers must go out and buy the grain from farmers or shut their mills if they failed to plan properly,” he said.
Also read: Zambia’s maize market in a crunch
The price of maize has gone up to nearly US$1 700/ton from a low of US$1 200/ton following a stand-off between millers and traders.
The Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) claimed the maize shortage was a result of traders holding back the crop to push up the price. However, the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) refuted the claim, saying millers owed them substantial amounts of money, making it difficult for them to continue trading.