By Oliver Kazunga
The Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) says the country should brace for an increase in the price of mealie meal in the next few days in line with the new producer prices.
In an interview after a closed door meeting with the GMAZ southern region membership in Bulawayo yesterday, GMAZ chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said the imminent mealie meal price review was necessitated by the producer price changes announced by Government this week.
Government increased the producer price of maize from $390 a tonne to $721 while wheat has been increased from $630 to $1 000.
“Government has increased the price of maize by a huge margin and we appreciate the reasons for doing that.
“We are also grateful that they have given us a 38 percent subsidy, the net effect of it is that maize has gone up by close to 70 percent and it’s a cost that we can’t absorb,” said Mr Musarara.
“So, therefore, today’s meeting was to discuss the next maize meal prices. We have agreed on when we are going to increase it but we can’t announce to you before we advise the Government on the increase in prices of mealie meal. But we will be advising Government today (yesterday) on the net effect of that but there is going to be an increase, we can’t stomach 70 percent.”
Before the new producer price, Mr Musarara said millers were buying maize from the Grain Marketing Board at $270 a tonne compared to $426 at present. While Government has maintained a subsidy on the wheat that would be bought by millers, GMAZ is still waiting for the Government to announce a new buying price.
A snap survey by Business Chronicle in Bulawayo yesterday revealed that major supermarkets in the Central Business District were selling a 10 kilogramme of roller meal at prices ranging between $9 and $11.
Turning to wheat supply, Mr Musarara said all milling companies have less than 30 days’ supply and thus GMAZ was calling on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to quickly avail the foreign currency allocations the sector requires to import the grain. At present, millers require US$12 million every month to import flour.
“On the maize side, there is still considerable maize to take us into the next harvest, which has already begun. So the maize stock at the moment is not an issue but it is the matter of price,” he said.
On the effects of the recent Cyclone Idai on grain importation by the milling industry, Mr Musarara said:
“Beira was ravaged badly. We had more than 100 trucks that were collecting wheat in Beira and they were cut off but I am glad to advise that the roads are now passable but of course taking a much longer time than before.
“The rail from Beira to Machipanda has been opened up so we are having rail wagons coming back but the biggest challenge was to do with the damage of silos in Beira, which now limits our capacity of how much we should receive and store in Beira, so we are going to have smaller ships coming as long as we are able to pay.”
Meanwhile, during the meeting new and old members from the southern region were given awards of excellence for their contribution to ensuring food security in the region. The Chronicle