BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
AT least 79 milling companies have folded up in the Matabeleland region due to economic hardships which have seen an increase in grey imports, an official has said.
Addressing journalists after touring milling companies in Bulawayo, Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said the local milling industry was under strain with only 11 milling firms still operating.
“This region (Matabeleland) used to have an excess of 90 millers, but because of the impact of cheap imports from South Africa and other countries that number has come down to 11.”
Musarara added that the re-opening of Blue Ribbon had stabilised the maize meal market in the region.
“The re-opening of this company (Blue Ribbon) with its capacity currently at 10 tonnes an hour means a lot in achieving food security in the southern region because Bulawayo mills not only for this province, but for other nearby provinces like the Midlands, Matabeleland North and South,” he said.
“They (Blue Ribbon) have so far committed $25 million into Zimbabwe as part of re-investment and they want to continue to do that. We believe that Blue Ribbon is a very key player in attaining food security, not only in maize meal; they are doing flour, rice and other products. So the popular brands – Amandla and Ngwerewere – which had gone into oblivion are back and that gives consumers a wide choice.”
Blue Ribbon branch manager, Bigboy Musiyiwa told NewsDay that they were currently producing more than 140 tonnes of mealie-meal a day.
“On a daily basis, we can ship a maximum of 142 tonnes and remain with something, but the minimum we can ship is about 100 tonnes. We can guarantee adequate mealie-meal,” he said.
At its Bulawayo branch, the company has about 36 workers.
“We have just started on the 24-hour production, that is the maximum we can do for now and if we maintain that 142 tonnes, there is no problem. That gives us an average of a 1 000 tonnes every week which is a good stock,” Musiyiwa said.
Blue Ribbon Foods resumed full production at its Harare and Bulawayo plants in 2017 after Tanzanian milling giant, Bakhresa Group, injected more than $20 million capital into the firm.
Bakhresa also has operations in Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda and Seychelles.