Zambia’s government will start regulating the price of staple maize meal milled from subsidised grain bought from its Food Reserve Agency, a presidential spokesman said on Monday.

The price of breakfast maize meal has risen by about 21 percent to 85 kwacha per 25 kg bag from March last year, raising fears of public discontent before a general election in August.

The state sold more than 750,000 tonnes of maize to selected millers at a subsidised price of about $170 per tonne to keep local maize meal prices affordable but some were breaching the agreement, presidential spokesman Amos Chanda said.

Chanda said some millers were selling maize meal at very high prices after buying the subsidised maize and others were smuggling the grain to neighbouring countries at a higher price.

“The Statutory Instrument will most likely be signed tomorrow and will take effect immediately,” said Chanda. “It will provide for stiffer penalties against erring millers.”

Zambia last week lifted the ban on the export of maize after a physical verification revealed that the southern African nation has enough stocks to last until August.