Monday, 22 October 2018

MILLERS : WE HAVE A WHEAT PLAN

THE Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has come up with a six months-wheat procurement programme to ensure constant supply and avert bread shortages in the country.

GMAZ chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said this in an interview at Nkulumane Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Bulawayo after the burial of the association’s national vice president Mr Thembinkosi Ndhlovu on Friday.

“We have come up with a six months-wheat procurement plan so that we build a three-month cover and at an given time in the country, we should have wheat equivalent to three months cover in order to avoid the occurrences like now where we have got wheat at the border and then logistical problems happen and immediately it impacts on the flour supply,” he said.

A fortnight ago, the GMAZ announced that it had started receiving 30 000 tonnes of wheat imported recently and millers who had temporarily closed shop due to the unavailability of the cereal were expected to resume operations.


GMAZ has said it is facing logistical challenges to bring in the 30 000 tonnes consignment it procured on instalment prepayment arrangement.

“They (National Railways of Zimbabwe) tell us that there is a serious shortage of loco-power and also there are other competing imports like fertiliser getting into Zimbabwe and Zambia. Since September 16, 2018, NRZ has only delivered 68 wagons and as we speak we have got 200 wagons that are currently loaded and stuck in Beira that need to come into the country,” said Mr Musarara.

“We’re waiting for NRZ to do its best . . . and we are hopeful that the 200 wagons which are equivalent to 8 000 tonnes should be in Zimbabwe as soon as possible.”

Mr Musarara said the GMAZ has already escalated their case to Government with the Ministry of 
Transport and Infrastructural Development indicating commitment to addressing the matter.
He said Zimbabwe’s bakery sector requires close to 800 tonnes of flour daily.

“We’ve just started to mill the wheat that came in but we should be at around 35 tonnes . . . and the wheat flour supply has improved since Wednesday (last week) but we don’t bake bread. The bakeries have been receiving our flour but they’re citing other cost pressures relating to other ingredients other than flour and as a result of that they’ve kind of reduced production to below 20 percent citing serious unavailability of some raw materials to make bread,” Mr Musarara said.

“Indications that we have received from them (bakeries) are that there are serious cost pressures that they are getting at the moment in respect of other raw materials.”

Meanwhile, media reports say some stakeholders in the baking industry have held clandestine consultations over the past week to unilaterally peg the price of a standard loaf of bread to the prevailing black market rate of the United States dollar against the bond note.

It is understood the bakers want to start implementing the pricing mechanism this week, raising the price of bread from $1,10 to $4-$5.

However, some players within the baking industry were shocked by the intended pricing mechanism as the Government was meeting the bulk of their input requirements, while other key cost drivers such as labour, water and electricity have remained constant.

The National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Ngoni Mazango has confirmed that the bread price hike was imminent.

The baking sector was among those that were receiving priority from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to secure foreign currency. Chronicle

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