ZIMBABWE – The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, which represents the country’s major milling companies, said it wants the government to impose a 40% of tariffs on imports of maize and maize meal because it is struggling to compete with cheaper South African maize grown from genetically modified seeds.
The imports are harming Zimbabwe’s attempts to improve food security by boosting local production, Tafadzwa Musarara, the chairman of the association said in an e-mailed response to questions on Thursday.
“The local milling industry has been on the end of the stick with regards to South African imports as South African millers literally dumped cheap GMO [genetically modified organism] maize meal into our economy and its time Zimbabwe realigned its economy by localizing production of its staple foods,” he said.
Zimbabwe also imports maize from Zambia.
Zimbabwe, once a maize exporter to its neighbors, has been importing the grain since a failed land reform Programme that began around 2000 during which mainly white commercial farmers were stripped of their land.
That land was then redistributed to black subsistence farmers.
Zimbabwe had spent $7bn on maize and maize product imports since 2002, Musarara said.
The association had committed to buying 800,000 metric tonnes of locally grown corn and 100,000 tonnes of locally grown wheat this season, the association said in a separate submission to parliament.
The country had wheat stocks of 115,000 tonnes, which it was struggling to use because of wheat flour imports, it said.