THE government has invited rumour mongers as well as members of the public who doubt the safety of the Zambia National Service (ZNS)-produced Eagle Mealie meal to tour the production plants and see for themselves.
Information minister Cornelius Mweetwa said government was even ready to provide free transportation to people that want to verify the safety of the mealie meal.
Commenting on rumours that ZNS was usomg Genetically Modified maize to produce its mealie meal, Mweetwa said allegations irresponsible, political, false and lacked any iota of truth.
He said this during a press briefing at the ZNS Chongwe Milling Plant yesterday.
The minister advised those spreading falsehoods about the safety of Eagle mealie meal to desist from propaganda, misinformation and making force alarms to the country especially on matters of grave concern such as of the staple food
“First do due diligence on fact finding before addressing the country. We urge you all to come with the media during tours at the plants and FRA so that you can see for yourself and inform the people the truth. Government is even ready to facilitate free transportation for your tours,” said Mweetwa.
And Defence Minister, Ambrose Lufuma said the defence force can never wish to put the country in danger by selling GMO maize, as the service is a government institution that can not go against government’s rules.
The minister explained that in order to satisfy the regional demand for the Zambian Non- GMO mealie meal, specifically from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Zambia National Service is Importing GMO maize from South Africa which is then exported by Eagle Milling to Congo without it being distributed in the country.
He said the imported mealie mealie meal bags are clearly labeled ‘Strictly export’ putting a difference between it and the Zambian market non-GMO mealie meal.
The minister said the staple food is a very sensitive commodity that needed to be handled carefully and that why government was working hard to ensure there was no shortage.
“Food security is national security and we are in the security class as ministry of defense. And so, using our plants with the capacity of 240,000 tones per day, and Chongwe plant with 40 tones capacity per day, we were then able to produce the mealie meal. Our collaboration with other millers came because the three ZNS millers country wide were not capable of providing for the whole country and the whole purpose was to ensure we provide affordable and proper mealie meal to our people,” Lufuma said.
He said ZNS was doing a great job in collaboration with FRA which has only being allowed to supply maize to ZNS because as government needed to control the shortage of mealie meal in the country as the partnership was fueled by the shortage of it.
“We have managed to supply enough and in chain stores too. The prices are not below the cost price, they cover the cost so we are not running at a loss,” he said.
He explained that because of the excessive demand put on Zambia’s non-GMO mealie meal from Congo, government devised a strategy to take care of the external demand.
“We sourced some maize from SA, milled it under ZNS logo and specifically for export purposes. We gave them what they wanted so that they can leave ours. So, it is immediately exported to Congo and our neighbors are satisfied and eating their maize,” explained Lufuma.
He said there should be no fear from Zambians that they are eating GMO mealie meal because that can never happen.
Further, the minister added that cabinet had also tasked the ministry to control and get rid of the rampant smuggling that had escalated due to regional demands it deducts from the maize on the shelf meant for Zambians.
“But we shall ensure that Zambia is well secure as far as the staple food is concerned,” said Lufuma.
By Buumba Mwitumwa and picture by Salim Dawood
Kalemba January 31, 2024