The Sunday Mail
Senior Business Reporter
Deliveries of the first batch of 400 000 tonnes of maize imports purchased by Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) from Zambia and Malawi are expected in the country this week.
In May, GMAZ announced it would buy US$100 million worth of grain after Cabinet in February invited private millers with free funds to complement local stocks.
While the country has enough maize to see it through to the next harvest, the private sector has been allowed to import to complement available supplies, especially after the mid-season drought in the 2021/2022 season, which significantly affected output.
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) expects farmers to deliver 1,5 million tonnes during the ongoing marketing season, 43 percent lower than the 2,7 million tonnes last year.
Zimbabwe requires 2,2 million tonnes of maize – 1,8 million tonnes for human consumption and 350 000 tonnes for livestock – every year.
GMAZ chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said the first consignment of grain imported from Zambia and Malawi is expected this week.
“Everything is on course to bring into the country the maize millers are importing from Zambia and Malawi. We are bringing in 30 000 tonnes in July and the first consignment is expected in the first week of July.”
Overall, millers plan to import 800 000 tonnes this year.
Forty percent of the consignment will be coming from the Food Reserve Agency of Zambia and the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) of Malawi.
National Consumer Rights Association spokesperson Mr Effie Ncube said grain imports would guarantee food security.
“The importation of grain is a welcome move. Many households already require food assistance since not all of them were able to harvest sufficient yields due to drought. Also, prices go up whenever a product is in short supply versus the high demand.
“Therefore, it is important that together with bringing in more grain to assure food security, other measures are taken to arrest the cost of doing business and unethical business practices.”
Consumers are, however, concerned with rising prices for mealie-mealie.
A 10kg bag is retailing between $3 940 and $4 700 depending on brand.
Government has since stepped in to ensure reasonable pricing for both mealie-meal and bread.
Addressing a press conference on measures to stabilise the local currency and contain inflation in Harare last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Government would be “expeditiously releasing the 7 000 tonnes of outstanding maize allocations to millers which had already been paid for but could not be allocated due to technical issues”.
“Whilst the levels of the Strategic Grain Reserve are relatively below the ideal levels, there was urgent need for the Government to intervene to bring stability in the price and supply of maize and bread flour in the economy,” he said.
“Over and above this, millers have indicated that they have 25 000 tonnes of maize which has already been paid for and are ready to make a swap arrangement with the Government.
“In this regard, the Government will release the equivalent quantity of maize from the Strategic Grain Reserve in July 2022 against the impending delivery of the purchased maize.”
Similarly, 20 000 tonnes of wheat per month would be released for the next three months at the import parity price calculated at the prevailing interbank rate.