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NatFoods at 5% capacity

Ndamu Sandu

ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed National Foods Holdings Ltd chairman Todd Moyo says the company’s two mills in Harare and Bulawayo have been operating at 5% capacity in the financial year en

ding 2004.

In a review of the 2004 financial year, Moyo attributed the decline in capacity utilisation to a small allocation of maize by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

Moyo said procurement of imported raw materials like animal proteins, minerals and vitamins would remain a challenge in 2005 “given that there is still a government ban on exports of stockfeeds”.

“It therefore means that the supply cycle is incomplete since there is no in-house generation of foreign currency.”

The company’s three maize mills in Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo remained closed in the financial year.

Zimbabwe is facing a shortage of maize, as the harvest from the just-ended season is not enough to meet the requirements.

In the year ended December 2004 Natfoods achieved inflation adjusted annual turnover of $959,5 billion with a profit after tax of $28,43 billion.

Investment in stocks was down 22% and liabilities to creditors increased to $60 billion from $24,9 billion in the previous year.

Debtors increased to $124,2 billion from $58,8 billion in the year comparable, attributed to advance payments to secure raw material supplies.

Zimbabwe needs 2,3 million tonnes of maize per year with 1,8 million for consumption while the remainder is for strategic grain reserves.

Zimbabwe has been having a deficit in maize harvests since 2000 when government embarked on the chaotic land reform programme.

A parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture last year revealed that the country had harvested 398 000 tonnes of maize in the 2003/4 season contrary to government’s claims that the country had harvested a bumper 2,4 million tonnes.

Analysts warned that unless government imports maize, a number of millers would go under this year, throwing a number of employees onto the streets.

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