The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has suspended with immediate effect the supply of bread and self-raising flour to biscuit and confectionery baking entities to prioritize bread output.
The suspension will be reviewed after 14 days when local and imported wheat supplies are expected to have improved.
Some bakers are unhappy with the development saying it may force them to close for 14 days as their businesses depend on confectioneries.
In a notice to all millers, GMAZ chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara, said flour supplies had remained critically low and it was important that priority for flour be given to major bread bakers.
“Flour supplies remain critically low and it is therefore prudent that the available wheat stocks be maximised towards food security in respect of improving bread flour supplies and self-raising flour for home baking nationwide.
“It is in the nation’s best food security interest that bread supplies improve nationwide for the benefit of all households. In view of the afore going you are therefore strongly advised with immediate effect to: for the next 14 days suspend flour supplies to biscuit and confectionery baking entities and prioritise Lobel’s, Bakers Inn, Proton, Natbake, Oceans Bakery, Central Millers and Bakery and major in store bakeries (Spar, TM/Pick n Pay, OK). These bakers according to the National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe market survey account for 95 percent of the bread supply to the market. Produce either or both bread flour and self-raising flour. All wheat bran be sold to bona fide and stock feeders,” read the notice.
“You are all now duty bound to co-operate and serve the nation.”
He said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had paid the balance of what was owed to Holbud’s Lithuanian for wheat that landed at Beira weeks ago.
The loading and final shipment to Zimbabwe has begun.
National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Ngoni Mazango yesterday said all bakers understood the flour shortages.
“While we understand the crisis, we are not into agreement with the suspension of the flour supplies. Some of our baking entities sorely rely on confectioneries and the move taken by GMAZ means they have to close for 14 days.
“What is best is to ensure flour supplies normalise so that we all run our businesses. The GMAZ suspension is not good for our association members. I would suggest that we as an industry find a way to expedite the availability of flour,” he said.
Zimbabwe requires 460 000 tonnes of wheat every year.
Wheat production had declined with the country becoming a net importer of the commodity as farmers were no longer interested in growing the crop due to high production costs.
Government had to introduce wheat under Command Agriculture and this has since improved supply of the commodity.