RBZ avails $20 million for wheat imports

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THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has released $20 million needed by millers to pay for the wheat they are importing from Canada and Germany.

The $20 million is part payment for the 200 000 metric tonnes of wheat which millers, through their apex representative body, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), last month sourced from the two countries.

The shipment will however be delivered in batches until the country starts harvesting its winter wheat this summer.

Last week, GMAZ wrote to the central bank requesting for $11 million to pay for the first batch of the grain which docks at Beira port in Mozambique this week.

That was after the suppliers had demanded a full payment of the 30 000 metric tonne of wheat which was being shipped from Canada amid threats to divert it if GMAZ failed to pay.

“Our logistics team is now working on how to transport the 30 000 tonnes of wheat which docks this week from Beira into the country whose arrival in Harare we are expecting starting next week and we owe this to the central bank for their swift response,” GMAZ’s Media and Public Relations Manager, Garikai Chaunza said.

“This is the first batch of the wheat deal which we concluded last month in Canada and we are going to receive the same quantum every month until the winter wheat harvesting season.

“Our national wheat stocks were fast depleting and we are left with grain that would take the nation up to June 26,” said Chaunza.

The country needs at least 400 000 metric tonnes of wheat per year to meet its demand of about 950 000 loaves of bread per day.

Government statistics say annual production capacity stands at 200 000 metric tonnes, leaving a shortfall of 200 000 metric tonnes.