ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s grain millers have received US$7 million funding from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to facilitate wheat imports as part of the government’s efforts to avert wheat and bread shortages.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) National Chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara, said that the foreign currency will be used for the procurement of 19 000 metric tonnes of wheat bonded in Beira, Mozambique.

“The 19 000 metric tonnes of wheat will cover the national flour requirements for the next two and a half weeks and the National Railways of Zimbabwe is in the process of loading the paid consignment which will start trickling into the country next week.

“The situation is expected to improve the supply of flour starting next week,” Musarara said in a statement.

Mr Musarara added that the millers had another consignment of 60 000 metric tonnes of cereal in Mozambique and were still to reach an agreement with RBZ for possible funding to avert an immediate return to shortages of the staple cereal.

“We also have another consignment of 60 000 tonnes of cereal in Mozambique whose payment we are negotiating with the central bank to settle so that the country does not run out of wheat,” he said. 

This comes after GMAZ reported early this week that wheat stocks in the country had “drastically” reduced which was set to further trigger bread shortage and potentially result to a hike in prices.

However, Masimba Dzomba, GMAZ vice chair said that the organisation has agreed with retailers on a self-regulation model against hiking prices of the products.

According to the GMAZ, the association needs US$12.5m from the government to import wheat to avert a complete bread shortages.

The country needs more than 1.5 million loaves of bread a day and supply of 30 000 tonnes of wheat every month for a consistent supply of the staple.

Currently, Zimbabwe’s wheat production of 400 000 metric tonnes per year only meets half the required amount.

Government figures indicate that US$100m is required annually for importing 500,000 tonnes of wheat to meet the country’s total demand.