Zim roller meal returns to $70 but remains scarce

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THE price of a 10 kg bag of mealie meal has gone back to $70 but locals will still scramble to access the scarce staple.

Government announced Friday it had restored its grain subsidy to cushion hungry Zimbabweans against rising prices of goods.

The amount is almost equal to US$1.

In a statement Friday, Industry Minister Sekai Nzenza announced government has reviewed its subsidy to allow mealie meal to maintain its $70 price.

“Government reviewed the maize roller meal subsidy programme in the wake of adjustment to the price of maize grain to millers,” Nzenza said.

“Cognisant of the Covid-19 pandemic, Government is committed to ensure that the prices of basic commodities, especially maize roller meal, should remain within the reach of the vulnerable.

“It is in this spirit that Government will continue to subsidise the roller meal programme so that it remains at ZWL70 per 10 kg bag, whilst the millers will continue to deliver to retailers at ZWL63 per 10 kg bag and receiving their subsidy as adjusted.

“The subsidy to millers has been adjusted from 73.90 per 10 kg bag to ZWL216.15.

“Government will continue to review these prices in consultation with stakeholders.”

Last month millers were forced to abruptly stop supplying subsided roller meal to retailers after the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) increased its maize price per metric tonne by 100%.

The new price by GMB meant the price of a 10 kg roller meal bag went to $260.59 but millers stopped supplies fearing backlash from consumers waiting for government to give a new directive.

GMB increased prices to $12,329,72, up from $6.958, 00, rendering government’s previous subsidy less viable to millers.

Millers also cited transport costs in terms of procuring grain from various GMB depots across the country.

While the new figures are a matter of arithmetic, the real battle on ground is to access the staple at the cited price.

Poor Zimbabweans have often scrambled to access mealie meal at the lowly price amid rampant cases of shops acquiring the staple at the subsidised prices and diverting it to the black market where it is sold in US dollars.

Meanwhile, responding to the new subsidy developments, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) Media and PR manager Garikai Chaunza, said the millers group, “welcomes the decision by the government to extend the subsidy program especially during this lockdown period”.

“The announcement of the review of the subsidy amount by the minister, however, captures costs as at before 8 June, and we on Wednesday 10 June submitted current costing(s) and computations for a further upward review of the subsidy.

“We are happy that the minister is committed to engaging the industry and we confirm that we have cordial relations with her ministry which is our parent ministry and all the government departments.”