BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZIMBABWE faces bread shortages following a move by the Ukraine army to suspend loading shipping vessels to South East Asia, Middle East and Africa as the world begins to feel the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Russian wheat accounts for approximately 55% of Zimbabwe’s imported wheat, which constitutes 30% to 42% of the cost of bread.
The country is currently consuming 16 000 metric tonnes of bread flour per month, and approximately 1.2 million loaves a day.
Zimbabwe will require to import 155 000 metric tonnes of wheat to mitigate the variance between local production and national demand, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara warned.
“In the past 60 days, imported wheat landed prices in Harare and Bulawayo have moved from US$480 to US$670 per metric tonne, and price surges continue,” Musarara said.
“The 2021 local winter wheat harvested saved the country US$146 million and proves to be a profitable import substitution transaction.
“However, the country will require importing 155 000 metric tonnes of wheat to mitigate the variance between local production and national demand.
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“The Russian-Ukraine war simply reminds all of us that we need to till the land and provide our food.”
Musarara also warned of civil unrest if the country failed to secure a constant supply of wheat to avoid bread shortages.
“Bread played a dark role in French history…In 1795, there were a series of extensive disorders in Britain over the scarcity and high price of provisions, especially wheat and bread,” he said.
“In 1917, 90,000 men and women took to the streets resulting in the overthrow of the Monarchy. Closer home, in 2018 bread shortages triggered riots in Khartoum, Sudan resulting in the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir.”
Zimbabwe has faced food riots before, the first being recorded in 1993 when the price of bread doubled following the removal of maize subsidies.