Livingstone Marufu Business Reporter
The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) will import 150 000 tonnes of wheat between now and November to supplement national stocks as the country is only left with two months’ supply.
The current wheat stocks stands at 90 000 tonnes and more wheat is on the way to avert potential shortages in the market.
According to GMAZ, millers have already procured 60 000 tonnes of wheat from Germany and the delivery to Beira is expected to be done by June 7, 2018, with 90 000 tonnes of wheat coming from Canada starting from September this year.
GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said: “In two weeks’ time we are going to receive a delegation of Canadian wheat traders coming to Zimbabwe to conclude the cereal purchase deal.
“We have just come back from Canada on a maiden trip in more than 20 years, following President Mnangagwa’s engagements at Davos with a number wheat traders in Europe and North America. On that basis we were able to engage top wheat producers on direct basis. We went to Canada and met several wheat suppliers and we also had farm visits in the province of Alberta.
“We are aiming to bring 90 000 tonnes of wheat between now and November from Canada. Beyond that we also want to bring in 200 000 tonnes of wheat in December 2018 and full year of 2019,” said Mr Musarara.
He said: “In the interim we have two Germany ships which are delivering 60 000 tonnes of wheat by June 7 and the wheat is expected to be in Harare 10 days later.”
Zimbabwe produced over 200 000 tonnes of wheat under the Command Agriculture programme last year and the millers have bought it all.
Mr Musarara said if the September deal goes through, millers will sign a five-year deal with the Canadian delegation.
“We want to make a five year deal with Canada. And it will be one of the biggest purchase by Zimbabwe from Canada.
“We have communicated to our suppliers that our wheat is paid for as soon as it arrives in Beira.
“Failure to pay, the wheat will be diverted to other countries. If the country settles all its obligations the country will be food secure,” he said.
Millers said the dietary requirements of people between six and 40 years have changed very much and has forced millers to import more wheat and rice to meet the new requirements.
Wheat requirements have risen to 450 000 from 350 000 in 2010, while rice requirements have also surged to 250 000 tonnes in 2017 from 50 000 in 2007.
Due to foreign currency shortages in the country, millers are owing various suppliers over $55 million of foreign payments, this has caused some suppliers to cut the supply line to some millers. Millers are grateful to the central bank for continuously supplying foreign currency in critical times. Zimbabwe was forced to use Russia, Poland and Turkey wheat, which has lower protein content due to frosty relations it had with western countries. Due to improved relations the country is now buying from Europe, America and Canada.
Russian wheat was not very compatible with new machinery hence millers prefer to buy Western wheat. Wheat is expected to be bought for much less due to the fact that millers are now dealing with farmers and traders directly.
Millers said that they are ready to supply the market with enough flour and rice supply.