The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR)says the projected maize bumper harvest of over 3.3 million should mitigate any further increase in mealie meal prices with the possibility of a downward price reversal in the immediate term and eventual price stabilisation in the long run.
The JCTR also states that in view of the projected bumper harvest, the recent lifting of the maize export ban should be followed with a close monitoring of maize outflows.
It says the tight monitoring of maize exports could guarantee smooth supply of the commodity to millers while ensuring sufficient availability of strategic reserves for the local market.
The JCTR has urged Government to ensure that the desire to export maize for various benefits accruing there from should not override national food security and sovereignty.
It has also called for the need to maximise the projected and reported bumper harvest to the fullest extent possible by ensuring significant reduction of post harvest losses and wastage from the previously reported 32% to the projected 5%.
The JCTR says this is tenable through timely provision of adequate, safe and clean storage facilities across the breadth and width of the country.
It however notes that notwithstanding the bumper harvest there is a potential threat to household coping capabilities arising from increased cost of living spurred by the recent 8.3% average increment in fuel pump prices and the continued depreciation of the Kwacha.
And the JCTR says the cost of living for the month of April 2014 as measured by JCTR’s Basic Needs Basket for an average family of five living in Lusaka has reduced to K3, 650.01 in April from K3,687.72,a favourable decrease of K37.71.
The JCTR attributes the decrease mainly to the drop in the price of dry fish which reduced on average by K20 per Kg, the price of charcoal which dropped by K5 per 90Kg bag and beans by K6 per Kg from the previous month of March.
It however says other domestic commodities showed marginal increases such as beef which increased by K3 per Kg and sugar by K1 per 2Kg.
The price reductions are generally attributed to seasonal changes especially as pertains to price reductions in fish which may be due to the lifting of the fish ban toward the end of March,while the price increases in non-food commodities is attributed to unfavourable exchange rate regime.