Millers require $400m to retool

The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) requires $400 million in the long-term for retooling the sector which is still underperforming due to liquidity constraints.

GMAZ national chairperson, Tafadzwa Musarara said the obsolete equipment had left the sector on its knees.

“We have old equipment that even if we take to the museum they would reject it. In the short term we require $50 million for the acquisition of raw materials,” Musarara said.

According to Musarara the sector now only has 28 active players down from 320 in 2008.

He said local millers had an installed capacity to meet the needs of both Zimbabwe and Malawi, but had been incapacitated to fully service the local needs at the moment.

Musarara noted millers were being affected by cheap imports and the absence of a clear policy on the importation of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

“We need clarity on GMOs. We are allowed to import GMO maize meal, but we are not allowed to buy GMO grain. We need to stop the coming in of cheap unknown brands into the country,” he said.

Musarara said duty on maize meal should also be increased from the current 10% to protect the local industry.

In his presentation on Budget expectations, Musarara said GMAZ wants Finance minister Tendai Biti to remove duty on packaging material, provide finance for retooling and recapitalisation and to discourage imports.

He said the ministry should curb corruption and establish a grain exchange board as well as the settlement of payments owed to foreign grain importers.

The association has since embarked into contract farming for wheat and maize for the 2011/12 agricultural season.

Under the deal, farmers would be supplied inputs by the association and would be paid after 21 days of delivering the produce to the association.

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