THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has secured the movement of 30 000 metric tons of wheat after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) made a US$5 million down payment to the supplier.
GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said the RBZ had committed to make the final installment of US$7m tomorrow.
Musarara said despite this the current national wheat stocks remained below national requirement with some mills having suspended milling operations owing to the unavailability of the product.
“Already, GMAZ had successfully negotiated for the movement of 30 000mt of wheat to Beira on an installment pre-payment arrangement. The final payment on this shipment will be will be paid tomorrow by Reserve Bank and the final shipment of the same will commence immediately thereafter both by rail and road. We aim to deploy 100 trucks to compliment rail”.
He said bread flour supplies are being prioritized to the major bakeries that constitute 90% of market share and have national geographical spread.
The country requires about US$20m a month to pay for wheat, rice and salt imports every month and GMAZ is currently saddled with a US$87m debt to foreign suppliers which is accruing US$400 000 a month in interest charges.
This debt has stocked inflationary pressures that have resulted in increase in wheat imports into the country in the last 90 days from US$375/MT to 415/mt. Millers and bakers have in turn passed the cost to the consumer resulting in the increase in the price of bread and self raising flour.
He said the industry hoped the currency reforms to be announced by the new minister of Finance will ring fence their outstanding nostro liabilities against exchange losses.
Musarara applauded the government’s command agriculture programme which has led to the biggest wheat import substitution intervention since 1980 and GMAZ had offered to buy 120 000 metric tonnes of the local produce.
“We have however placed our offer with the minister of Finance to procure 120 000 metric tonnes of the local wheat and now ready to make the payment. We are extremely committed in promoting local wheat farming in Zimbabwe and in January 2019, we will be announcing further assistance interventions that we will be making”.
He said the EL Nino phenomenon had affected global wheat production in the main growing countries such as Germany and USA.
Russia the world’s second biggest exporter of wheat and a major source for Zimbabwe had cut its export quota.