BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) says its members are planning to procure close to one million tonnes of grain from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) this year.
“We are keen to go up to one million tonnes but we stand guided by the government on how best we are going to do it in respect of how much they are going to allocate to the industry and how much is going to the strategic grain reserves,” GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara told businessdigest last week
Compared to what millers procured last year, Musarara said: “It is a three-fold increase. We are happy with the current bumper harvest.”
Musarara said millers had mobilised $20 billion (about US$238 million) under a pre-payment arrangement with the government to bankroll maize procurement by the GMB this selling season.
Government has this year set aside $60 billion (about US$700 million) to capacitate the GMB to pay farmers for maize deliveries following a bumper harvest on the back of good rains during the 2020/2021 cropping season.
The GMAZ boss also revealed that the government would ban importation of maize into the country.
“In order to safeguard everything, we have agreed with the government that the government is going to ban, with immediate effect, importation of maize, maize meal, maize bran and any other maize-processed products into the country,” he said.
“This is meant to ring-fence our harvests and make sure that the market is protected for the local industry.”
He said millers were also working with the government to stop side-marketing as it was killing the agriculture sector.
On maize meal prices, Musarara said: “On retail price, we have discussed that at length with the government, the maximum that we expect will be $600 per 10kg (about US$7) bag of roller meal in the retail shop. This is the maximum but prices are going to come down.”
According to the Second Round of Crop and Livestock Assessment Report released recently, the estimated maize production stands at 2,7 million tonnes this year, which is 199% of the 907 628 tonnes produced in the 2019/2020 season.
Over 6 000 tonnes of maize was delivered to GMB during the first three weeks of the 2021 marketing season that began on April 1.
The marketing season opened with nearly 1 400 buying points established countrywide, and authorities are working on setting up an additional 400 selling points as the season progresses.