By Elita Chikwati
The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has started receiving the 30 000 tonnes of wheat imported recently and millers who had temporarily closed shop due to the unavailability of the cereal are now expected to resume operations.
The wheat was secured by GMAZ on an instalment prepayment arrangement.
The wheat landed at Beira, Mozambique recently.
It was released after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe paid the balance owed to Holbud’s Lithuanian.
Addressing journalists yesterday at Olivine Plant in Willowvale where the association had received part of the consignment, GMAZ chairman, Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said it was important that the country continued to have bread-making wheat.
“We expect that by Wednesday next week, the millers that had shut down will re-open and start producing,” he said.
Mr Musarara expressed concern over panic buying on the market, saying it was worsening the situation.
He said wheat was competing with fertiliser imports and this had delayed its delivery as the National Railways of Zimbabwe was overwhelmed.
“If the NRZ had been bringing in 40 wagons a day, the situation would take 10 days to normalise,” he said.
“We are ready to supply the market and all we need to supply is in place and the only challenge is with the NRZ. We hope NRZ improves.”
GMAZ intends to buy 120 000 tonnes of wheat locally at $310 per tonne.
Mr Musarara said millers were also lobbying for a producer price of $730 per tonne when GMB buys from farmers.
Mr Musarara said people were shifting preferences from maize to flour and rice, increasing demand for wheat products.
“The RBZ should continue to assist us with funding,” he said.
“We are now entering into the festive season and we are now working on ensuring that there will be enough wheat, rice and salt during that period . . .
“After next week, we need to make further payments. We should have a six months plan as it takes a long period for the ship to load and come.”
Zimbabwe requires about 460 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
The national wheat requirement is 38 000 tonnes a month and the current national consumptions stands at 1,5 million loaves a day.