ZIMBABWE will in two weeks complete a deal with Canadian wheat suppliers for 290 000 metric tonnes of wheat from the North American country up to December 2019.
By Tinotenda Munyukwi
The deal followed a recent visit to Canada by a Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) delegation led by the association’s chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara in search of wheat supplies as supplements for national reserves have been depleting.
Addressing journalists in the capital, Musarara said the deal with the Canadian suppliers will be completed in two weeks once transportation logistics have been ironed out with the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
“We met our prospective wheat suppliers in Canada, who are keen to deal with us directly.
“Between now and November, we are aiming to bring 90 000 metric tonnes of wheat from Canada.
“Beyond that, we are bringing another 200 000 between December 2018 and the full year of 2019.
“At the moment, we are secure, provided that RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) continues to remit the payments as scheduled. In the absence of that, we have serious problems,” he said.
The central bank is a key player in the importation of wheat, as the country still owes $55 million from 2016 to wheat suppliers, after RBZ failed to remit payments because of the depleted nostro accounts.
Musarara warned that the Canadian deal would flop if the country failed to pay and where the wheat to arrive in Beira, Mozambique, without payments being made, the grain would be diverted to other countries.
“The comprehensive import plan we have put in place will be sufficient provided the Reserve Bank continues to remit the payments as we have agreed,” he said.
Due to the depleted nostro accounts, the country is struggling to import critical commodities, with the recent fuel shortages being a case in point.
Zimbabwe needs an estimated 400 000 metric tonnes of wheat per year to meet its demand of about 950 000 loaves of bread per day.
Local annual production capacity stands at 200 000 metric tonnes, leaving a shortfall of 200 000 metric tonnes.
Millers say that wheat imported from Europe and Canada made the best nutritional blend for flour.