Bread shortage looms in Zim

Bread shortage looms in Zim

Source: Bread shortage looms in Zim – DailyNews Live

HARARE – As the country’s economy continues to tank under the weight of
myriad challenges, millers are now also warning of imminent bread
shortages – unless the government urgently releases foreign currency for
wheat imports which are currently being held up in Beira, Mozambique
awaiting payment.

The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (Gmaz) confirmed this week that
a bread crisis was looming as wheat stocks in the country had now reached
critical levels.

This comes as Zimbabwe is fast-sliding back into the familiar throes of an
economic crisis – which has lately seen the prices of basic commodities
skyrocketing, while some goods have disappeared completely from
supermarket shelves due to the country’s acute foreign currency shortages.

As a result, Gmaz general manager Lynette Veremu warned that the country’s
wheat stocks now required urgent attention as they had fallen to their
lowest levels since 2005.

“The available stocks are 28 028 metric tonnes … The current monthly
national requirement is 38 000 metric tonnes.

“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is yet to remit $12 450 000 to the
wheat supplier, Holbud Limited of the UK …

“No remittance has been made despite commitment made by RBZ governor on 28
August 2018. Holbud has grown impatient and threatens to divert stocks
currently at Beira to Mozambican and Malawian millers,” Veremu said.

“With respect, wheat and fuel are both in category one of the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe foreign payment remittance priority list.

“Regrettably, fuel gets $21 000 000 per week religiously but wheat is not
getting a paltry $12 450 000 per month for the entire monthly
requirements,” she added in a letter addressed to Gmaz chairperson
Tafadzwa Musarara.

Meanwhile, bread and rolls were out of stock in many shops in Harare that
were visited by a Daily News crew yesterday – with shop assistants
reporting significant cuts in their normal allocations from bakers.

“Self-raising flour has disappeared in many shops nationwide. Small bread
bakers are stocked out.

“I strongly recommend that you alert the powers-that-be of this
predicament as the country is fast plunging into severe flour and bread
stock-outs in the next few days,” Veremu said in her Tuesday letter.

It has also emerged that Musarara’s attempts to negotiate for the release
of part of the wheat being held in Beira was turned down last month
because the government had not settled its outstanding debts on grain
dating back to 2016.

“We regret to inform that our bankers will not accept the RBZ guarantee
for payments for the following reasons … RBZ/GMB has an outstanding
payment to us of $12 242 025, 48 for maize supplied in 2016, the payment
for which was promised in June 2017 but is yet to be received.

“We had been promised several times but … payment has not been received,
making our position with our bankers very bad even though we were the only
company to fulfil the commitment by bringing around 300 000 metric tonnes
during the drought period and avoiding a shortage of maize in the
country,” Holbud said.

The company further revealed that it was also owed a further $10,7 million
by Zimbabwe for fertiliser that it had delivered to the country.

“We have been supporting Zimbabwe through timely delivery of the cargo but
the promises for payments are never fulfilled as you will see from the
above, though we were
given to understand other importers are being paid for fertiliser.

“As mentioned to you in our offer, we can’t keep the wheat in Beira for
long, as you are aware the international situation of wheat is very tight
due to drought in most wheat growing areas in the world and prices are
very firm,” Holbud said – adding that the failure to pay for the wheat was
going to result in it offering the cargo to Mozambique and Malawi.

Zimbabwe needs an estimated 400 000 metric tonnes of wheat per year to
enable bakers to meet their combined 950 000 loaves per day production.

This comes as industry is battling a deepening foreign currency crisis
which is making it difficult for manufacturers to import critical raw
materials on time.

This has led industry to warn of further price hikes and shortages of
basic consumer goods.