Nshima, the stodgy porridge-like substance cooked out of maize-meal, has divided families and triggered food riots in Zambia at one time or other. This is why subsequent governments have kept a keen eye on the growing, harvesting, buying and selling of maize-meal to consumers.
The production of maize — or corn as it is known in other parts of the world — is an even bigger issue in the mining region of the Copperbelt and metropolitan areas like the capital, Lusaka, where large working populations rely on the commercial supply of the product. Accordingly, maize determines the political direction of the nation.
In May, the World Bank urged the Zambian government not to interfere in determining the floor prices of maize sold by farmers to the Food Reserve Agency and other interested parties in the agri-business chain. Despite such calls, the Ministry of Agriculture announced this year’s floor price of maize at K65, 000 (about $13 USD) per 50 kilo bag.