By Munyaradzi Dhure
The shortage of wheat in the country is leading to an increase in the prices of bread, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has said.
Speaking at a press conference in Harare on Thursday 13 September 2018, Tafadzwa Musarara, the Chairman of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe said current wheat stocks were dwindling.
Musarara said the current increases in global wheat prices were affecting imports into Zimbabwe. The situation was being worsened by low foreign currency remittances and climate change.
“The on-going El Niño included weather in the western world is negatively impacting major global wheat exporting countries such as Germany and United Staes of America. Their forecasted wheat supplies have been revised downwards, sending global prices to spike.
“Russia, arguably the world’s second wheat exporter (USD5.8 billion, 14.8% of global wheat exports) and a major source market for Zimbabwe, has cut its exports quota. The unfolding geo-politics around trade tariffs wars are not making the situation any better”, Musarara said
Musarara said, “In view of the foregoing wheat imports into Zimbabwe have increased in the past 90 days from USD375MT to USD415.00/MT. The margin of price change has become too big to absorb, leading to nominal price increase of bread and self-raising flour. A wheat, rice and salt foreign debt of USD87m is currently saddling the grain milling industry and its monthly interest elevation accrue $400,00.00 creating inflationary pressures towards product pricing.
“We wait with abated breath the full text of the proposed currency reform and hope our outstanding Nostro liabilities will be ring fenced against exchange losses. In order for the country to be sufficiently provided, we require USD20, 000, 000 to pay for wheat, rice and salt imports every month.”
About five suspended mills affected the current national wheat stocks. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, GMAZ, and Ministry of agriculture have comprehensive contingent measures concerning shipment of wheat into the country commencing on Monday next week.
It emerged that GMAZ has successfully negotiated for the movement of 30, 000 MT of wheat to Beira on an instalment pre-payment arrangement. The final payment on the shipment will be paid today (Friday 14 September 2018) by Reserve Bank and the final shipment of the same to Zimbabwe will commence immediately thereafter both by rail and road.
Musarara said there were plans to procure 120 000 metric tones of the local wheat and the industry was ready to make prepayment arrangements.
“We are extremely committed to promoting local wheat farming in Zimbabwe and in January 2019, we will be announcing further assistance interventions that we will be making”, he said.
GMAZ pledged to assist the Ministry of Health and Child Care with money to help in the eradication of cholera.
“Our hearts bleed on the loss of lives due to cholera. Our prayers are with the bereaved families. Milling companies are responsible corporate citizens and accordingly, GMAZ will be approaching the new minister of Health with our offer to assist with necessary provisions to combat this menace” he said.