Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, has urged grain millers to source their own grain instead of always waiting for supplies from the government.
This comes at a time when the country’s Strategic Grain Reserve levels have fallen drastically despite government claims that phenomenal grain deliveries from the 2020/2021 season harvest had been made to the Grain Marketing Board.
Drought is already beckoning in the country and unless decisive measures are taken by the authorities, many Zimbabweans will starve.
Feeling the heat, the government this week said the burden to replenish grain stocks should not fall on itself alone.
“It has been noted with concern that millers have always put the burden on the government to replenish their grain stocks,” said Ncube while briefing the media in Harare this week.
“Whilst we appreciate the importance of ensuring food security to the nation, millers should be encouraged to source their own grain stocks whenever possible. Given the envisaged shortfall of both maize and wheat during the current season, the Government will expedite the importation of maize available in Malawi and Zambia, while wheat will be sourced from cheaper source markets.”
He acknowledged there was a looming shortage of maize meal and flour in the market which had resulted in the sharp increase of the price of bread and mealie meal to levels beyond the reach of ordinary citizens.
“Whilst the levels of our Strategic Grain Reserve are relatively below ideal levels, there is, nevertheless, urgent need for the Government to intervene to bring stability in the price and supply of maize meal and bread flour in the economy,” said the Finance Minister.
Government should release 20 000MT [of wheat] per month to millers for the next three months beginning in July 2022 at the import parity price calculated at the prevailing interbank rate. Millers have indicated that they will in turn import 70 000MT of wheat over the same period.”
He added: “The wheat will be sold at an import parity price of USD680 converted into local currency equivalent at the ruling exchange rate. Therefore, the price of wheat to millers will be ZWL$239 360.
On maize, he said there would be an immediate release of the 7 000MT outstanding maize allocations to millers which had already been paid for but could not be allocated due to technical issues.
“Over and above this, millers have indicated that they have 25 000MT of maize which has already been paid for and are ready to make a swap arrangement with Government, in this regard, Government will release the equivalent quantity of maize from the Strategic Reserve in July 2022 against the impending delivery of the purchased maize,” he said.
Ncube added: “Thereafter, a further release of 27 000MT of maize from the Strategic Grain Reserve to millers at a price of ZWL$75 000 plus the US$90 at the prevailing interbank rate. The selling price of maize to millers will, therefore, be at ZWL$106 680.”