ZIMBABWE – The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) says the country’s flour stocks have improved with supply to the bakeries from the millers now set at 500 tonnes per day.

According to GMAZ chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara at the current supply capacity, the country can produce 1 million loaves of bread against a national daily demand of 1.4 million loaves.

This follows the government move to avail US$7 million required for facilitating procurement of wheat from the international market.

Musarara said wheat imports had started coming in from Beira, Mozambique.

“This development follows the intervention of the President of the Republic, His Excellency ED (Emmerson) Mnangagwa that unlocked significant wheat grain stocks to the milling industry. The supply of bread to the market is recovering.

 “Wheat imports have started coming in from Beira and we are grateful for the dispensation we got from government to allow the private sector to import 100 000 metric tonnes of wheat and clear the pipeline before Grain Millers Board becomes the exclusive importer of wheat,” Musarara said.

Mr Musarara however called for optimal utilisation of the commodity by bakers in the country in order to prevent bread prices increase that have gone up more than threefold since the beginning of the year.

“The entire East and African region is in a net importing position currently and the Zimbabwe situation is not unique.

“In order to deliver and guarantee availability and affordability of the flour and bread, government safety nets in the wheat value chain are welcome.

“The critical importance of wheat, flour and bread to national food security and social stability cannot be over emphasised.

“We are, therefore, calling upon colleagues in the baking industry to shun baking of confectionery and biscuits so that they deploy the entire wheat flour supply to bread baking,” he added.

At the same time, GMAZ is also considering to eliminate wholesalers from the distribution of basic grain products to make them affordable to consumers.

Mr Musarara said that the move would result in the removal of about four percent of the cost price of a commodity like mealie-meal. “We are working on modalities to see to it that products like mealie-meal are sold straight or direct from the producers to the retailers.”

Zimbabwe produces about a third of its wheat requirements estimated between 350 000 and 400 000 tonnes yearly, relying on imports from as far as Russia, Ukraine and Canada.