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Govt summons milling firms amid acute mealie meal scarcity

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By Staff Reporter

GOVERNMENT has summoned Zimbabwean milling firms for a fresh registration process this Friday with hopes to unlock mealie meal stashes players have elected to withhold from the consuming public as the farce around the staple’s pricing regime continues to threaten families’ food needs.

This was revealed Thursday by Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) Public Relations Manager, Garikai Chaunza.

“Government will this Friday meet with millers from all over the country and iron out issues affecting the availability of subsidised roller meal,” Chaunza said.

“High on the agenda of the meeting is the registration of millers and grain supply whose issues have affected the availability of roller meal on the market.”

Government’s decision November this year to scrap grain subsidies rattled the market as roller meal prices short up, far beyond the reach of the ordinary consumer.

A subsequent abrupt move to reverse the unpopular policy stance has not helped matters as government has delayed in disbursing the said subsidies leaving millers and retailers at a loss on how to price their products.

Even more confusing was a government decision to take over the registration of milling firms from GMAZ, something that has caused delays in the procurement of subsidised grain by companies from the Grain Marketing Board.

GMB does not sell grain to non-registered millers.

This has resulted in mealie meal shortages as millers have chosen to withhold the starchy product while waiting for a substantive solution to the confusing.

For that reason, government, through the Industry Ministry, has called for a meeting with stakeholders in attempts to break the crippling impasse.

Said Chaunza, “We will be meeting with Ministries of Industry and Commerce, Finance and Economic Development, Agriculture, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) in Harare today to discuss all the issues relating to the smooth flow of the government initiated roller meal subsidy, and we hope that all our members who have been facing registration challenges would be assisted during this crucial meeting.

“We have more than 60 millers who are yet to be registered and we are glad that the authorities have called them all to attend the meeting to discuss and iron out all sticking issues.”

Government has committed to avail 40 000 tonnes of maize for subsidised roller meal production per month to millers starting this December.

Only a few millers have been registered.

Millers have spent the past two weeks at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce trying to get registered but without success.

The government officially tasked GMAZ to facilitate the roller meal subsidy programme, but the decision was reversed without formal communication by the former to the latter.

GMAZ members are ready to supply the product to the market once they get registered.

The country consumes 32 000 tonnes of roller meal per month.