HARARE – The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) and the Commercial Farmers Union have signed an agreement to increase the maize producer price and also ban imports of the staple food.
The intended ban of maize imports from neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Zambia and Malawi, which have all recorded bumper harvests, is meant to mop up grain withheld by farmers in Zimbabwe over poor producer prices.
A 10 kg pack of unrefined maize meal currently sells for an average of $5,80 while a refined pack goes for $8
The producer price of maize per tonne could increase by almost 50 percent.
Tafadzwa Musarara, president of GMAZ, the apex representative body of the milling industry in Zimbabwe, told the Daily News yesterday that the proposed increases in the prices of maize from $220 to $340 per tonne will go a long way in supporting the local maize producers who have been holding on to their produce in the face of stiff competition from cheap imports.
“The measures proposed include the reduction of maize and maize meal imports which are causing depression of maize prices to the current levels of $220 per tonne,” Musarara said.
“This will be done through the application of surtax application which will ensure that imports glut of maize meal is eliminated. Zimbabwe’s neighbours have recorded bumper harvest.
“Zambia has an excess of one million tonnes of maize, Malawi 0,6 million tonnes and South Africa has a staggering 3,8 million tonnes. The same bumper situation obtains in Tanzania and other Eastern African countries.”
The deal between farmers and unions could be a boon for the country’s agricultural sector.
Consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), said the agreement between farmers and millers spells doom for Zimbabweans, who are already struggling to make ends meet in a country with over 80 percent on the jobless heap.
But the millers say Zimbabwe should implement measures that will ensure it does not become a dumping ground for cheap imported maize.
“What this means is that Zimbabwe becomes the only market for Malawi, Zambia and South Africa with expected parity expected in two weeks to be at $220 per tonne,” Musarara said.
“Imported maize meal prices are likely to dip in the next three weeks to about $290 per tonne.
“This is not good for local maize agriculture.”
Musarara ruled out an increase in the price of maize meal, saying the price revision will produce a win-win situation.
“This provides the requisite solutions to protect and promote all players in the maize value chain,” he said.
“The players are farmers, millers, traders and consumers.
“If these measures are implemented, prices of maize meal will remain stable and offtake of local maize will increase, sales for seeds and other inputs will jump and farmers will be able to prepare adequately for the next farming season.”