Millers assure nation of adequate maize meal

THE country’s Grain millers have given assurances of adequate maize meal throughout the country, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said Government had been involved in robust engagements with manufacturers, retailers and other stakeholders to ensure availability of basic commodities at affordable prices.

Among the stakeholders is the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, which is key in the supply of maize meal, the country’s staple food.

“In an effort to enhance consumer welfare, the Ministry continues to monitor the prices and availability of 14 basic commodities which are cooking oil, mealie-meal, bathing soap, beef, bread, chicken, eggs, flour, fresh milk, laundry soap, rice, salt, sugar, and washing powder,” Minister Nyoni said.

“The aim is to ensure that the consumer has access to basic products at affordable prices. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce therefore, wishes to advise the nation that the grain millers have committed to supply the country with adequate maize meal through the various distribution outlets, including the formal retailers. In addition, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has also committed to avail and distribute maize to the millers through its various depots countrywide.”

She said the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has committed to operate special routes to fast track the clearance of imported maize at the various ports of entry and exit.

Minister Nyoni said the Ministry had also held meetings with major wholesalers and retailers where commitments were made to ensure there is easy accessibility and availability of basic commodities on the shelves, particularly roller meal.

“Let me applaud the local industry, both the manufacturers and the retailers for their continued support to government policies to ensure consistent availability of basic commodities on the market,” she said.

Minister Nyoni’s assurances come at a time when a sharp rise in the price of maize meal has been witnessed at most retail outlets with a 10kg packet of the staple going up from under US$5 to between US$6 and US$7, while a 20 litre bucket of the grain costs between US$8 to US$10 at Mbare Musika and other markets around the country’s urban settlements.

The Government is on record saying that the country had grain stocks to last close to a year at the GMB, which as of last December 10 had 235 095 tonnes of grain comprising 188 353 tonnes of maize, 46 742 tonnes of traditional grains.

At the prevailing monthly consumption rate of 23 000 tonnes per month, the grain is expected to last the country 10.2 months, while the current wheat stocks stood at 242 508 tonnes which is sufficient to provide 11.5 months cover at a monthly drawdown rate of 21 000mt.

Private players had between last April 1 and December 1 imported 313 719mt of grain, comprising 186 341mt of maize, 121 549mt of wheat and 5 829mt of wheat flour.

Meanwhile, the country targets to have 2 877 000ha planted with summer crops during the current season, of which 867 000ha will be financed by the climate proofed Presidential Inputs Supply Scheme (Pfumvudza/Intwasa), and the rest by CBZ, AFC, NMB and other banks, the private sector and farmers.

Due to the effects of El Nino, most parts of the country expect to receive normal to below normal rainfall this season. — New Ziana.

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