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Maize, mealie meal prices skyrocket

by Staff reporter
31 Mar 2024 at 15:20hrs | Views
The prices of mealie-meal and maize have gone up by over 100% amid indications that the commodity is fast disappearing from shop shelves as the effects of drought set in.

Indications are that the situation will get worse in the coming months owing to the El Nino-induced drought with no hope of planted crops being salvaged because of the prolonged dry spell.

A survey conducted by Standard People revealed that major retail shops were receiving erratic supplies of mealie-meal with some restricting the quantities to customers as demand increases.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) also said  it had noted shortages of mealie-meal in major retail shops in its weekly price surveys.

The CCZ said the commodity was readily available in the informal market where traders were selling mealie meal and maize exclusively in United States dollars and in prices beyond most ordinary citizens' reach.

A 10kg pocket of mealie-meal is being sold for anything between US$7.50 and US$11 while street vendors sell a bucket of maize at US$10 a bucket, according to CCZ, double the price charged at the beginning of March.

CCZ director corporate affairs Philemon Chereni encouraged consumers to consider alternatives to meet their dietary demands where the staple- maize was not readily available.

"Maize meal is one of the basics, which is under price monitoring as spelt out by relevant statutes," Chereni said.

"Any increase on the price of the product has to be agreed on by all stakeholders and policy makers.

"Due to drought shortages might result in demand pushing prices up, thus we commend policy-makers for allowing businesses with free funds to import maize.

"We are also urging consumers to purchase cheaper alternatives readily available in the market to augment dietary requirements."

The government has, however, assured citizens that it has the capacity to provide mealie-meal for households.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week during the commissioning of a milling plant in Harare's Tynwald suburb said the government's drought relief programme was already underway.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that 5,3 million Zimbabweans are facing starvation due to the El-Nino-induced drought.

Several humanitarian organisations such as the United States Agency for International Development and the WFP are already implementing their drought relief mitigation programmes, especially in the hardest-hit rural areas.

There are no indications when the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry will undertake food aid relief programmes as the budget has not been announced.

Zimbabweans, who experienced the 1991-92 drought recorded by the Department of Civil Protection as the worst drought in living memory, have expressed fears that the country is headed for the worst.

At the time, people, including those relatively well off, found the going tough due to massive food shortages countrywide.

Due to maize-meal shortages, sadza had to be cooked from the unfamiliar yellow maize meal, commonly referred to as Kenya and said to be stockfeed in other countries.

Source - the standrad
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