By Bennie Mundando in Ndola
ONLY three out of 120 millers countrywide are stockpiling maize to last up to the next crop marketing season for their production of mealie meal, The Scoop has learnt.
Sources among millers says only African Milling, National Milling, and Simba Milling are purchasing maize in bulk to store while the rest are buying on the as-need-be basis because they know Government will offload the commodity to them once they create an artificial shortage of mealie meal and claim they have a shortage of maize on the market.
Sources say despite Zambia recording a bumper harvest in the 2019/2020 farming season, millers are not willing to buy the commodity because they are used to getting cheap maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) which they use to make huge profits.
“It is only National Milling, Simba, and African Milling which are buying maize in bulk to last up to the next farming season. The rest are waiting for cheap maize from FRA and are only buying for immediate use. By December 2020 or January 2021, they will claim that they have run out of stock and ask for cheap maize from FRA.
“They know that 2021 will be a critical year politically. They will simply create an artificial shortage of mealie meal and claim that there is no maize on the market. The shortage of mealie meal with then make prices to skyrocket. Under pressure, Government will then be compelled to give them cheap maize but they will only reduce the mealie meal prices by a meager K5 utmost.
“This means they will make huge profits. This is the tactic the cartel among millers has been using for a long time now and Government has been falling for this. As a result, the manipulation will continue. There is need to destroy this cartel because what it is involved in is utter blackmail and economic sabotage,” one of the sources said.