AGRICULTURE and Livestock Minister Bob Schinga has taken a swipe at Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) president Allan Sakala for accusing him of double standards over the prices of mealie-meal. Mr Sakala in an interview at the weekend stated that Mr Sichinga had allegedly U-turned on an agreement that millers should buy maize at K1, 600 per tonne to reduce mealie-meal prices. He said during the meeting held with Government, it was agreed that the price of maize per tonne should be K1, 600, but that to their surprise the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was selling maize at K1, 700 per tonne. He said the millers were stuck as they could not sell a 25 kilogramme bag of mealie-meal at K65 when they were buying maize from Government at K1, 700 per tonne and K1, 950 per tonne from private companies. Mr Sakala said the Government should address the price of maize on the market and not dictate the prices of mealie-meal. He explained that as long as the price of maize was pegged at more than K1, 600 per tonne, the price of a 25 kilogramme bag of mealie-meal would be sold at about K67 along the line of rail. But Mr Sichinga said the claims by Mr Sakala over what was agreed during the meeting were not true. "It's not true, no such agreement was made during the meeting, that discussion was completely separate from the meeting. It was a decision taken subsequently and independent of the meeting," he said. Mr Sichinga said all he indicated was that FRA would soon release 50, 000 tonnes of maize on the market to cushion the maize prices. On Thursday last week, the minister held a meeting with the Zambia National Farmers Union Grain Traders Association , MAZ and other stakeholders to find a solution to the escalating prices of the staple food.
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