The milling industry has received a boost after it took delivery of 30 000 metric tonnes of wheat, which is enough for three weeks, to avert a potential bread shortage.
The wheat was imported from Germany with another consignment expected in three weeks’ time, Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe chairman Tafadzwa Musarara told journalists in Beira yesterday.
“This shipment has come at the intervention of the chairman of the Cabinet committee on food security Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga,” he said.
“We are working with the Reserve Bank [of Zimbabwe] so that we are able get the second scheduled shipment coming around the 20th of July.”
Musarara said flour supply was now adequate, ruling out any bread shortages. Zimbabwe requires 38 000 metric tonnes of wheat per month. The consignment will go to the country’s top five millers – National Foods, Blue Ribbon, Alpha Grain, Central Milling and Manyame Milling.
The milling industry is currently owing $53 million to traders and this has been accruing monthly interest of $500 000, Musarara said. The industry was exhausting the 180 000 metric tonnes of wheat it had prepaid under the command agriculture scheme necessitating the need to import until the next harvest.
But millers have to incur an extra cost through imports. The industry will import wheat, which costs between $382 and $390 per tonnes which is more than the $310 per tonne they were buying from farmers.
This, Musarara said, was a sharp increase putting pressure on the industry.
Notwithstanding the cost pressures, he said millers were committed to supply the baking industry with the flour required. He said the industry had set aside $80 million to buy wheat under command agriculture.
Last month, millers raised the red flag, warning of bread shortages as they were running out of wheat before the government availed $11 million for imports.