The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
FLOUR shortages have continued to constrain production of bread and other confectioneries as the country continues to face foreign currency shortages, an official has said.
In an interview, National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe (NBAZ) president Mr Ngoni Mazango said most bakeries were now operating at around 60 percent capacity due to the challenges.
“At the moment most bakeries are operating at a production capacity of between 60 to 75 percent because we are having challenges as some of our small to medium bakeries do not have flour, hence we have been engaging the Grain Millers Association and appealing to the Government for allocation of foreign currency to be able to import wheat,” said Mr Mazango.
He said the country got 178 000 tonnes from its farmers last year, quantities way below national requirements.
“Wheat harvested in the previous season was 178 000 metric tonnes, while the required tonnage is 420 000 so that is why we are having a challenge as the gap of the 242 000 metric tonnes has to be covered by imports. This year projected harvest is around 120 830 metric tonnes which is less than last year,” he said.
Mr Mazango said the Government should quickly intervene by providing foreign currency to import more wheat.
“If the Government could assist by allocating foreign currency, this can help bakeries as the bulk of ingredients and machinery are imported. As an association the repairs and maintenance costs and wages have also gone up, hence if RBZ could allocate enough foreign currency it would go a long way in terms of continuity and ease viability challenges the bakeries have been facing,” said he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Mazango commended the Government for the initiatives of Command Wheat and Command Soya calling them positive steps in the direction of resuscitating the economy.
“The Command Wheat project is an important initiative as it supports farmers to increase productivity. The more wheat we can produce as a country the less foreign currency we can use importing wheat. We also embrace the Command Soya as soya is also an ingredient for most of our baking products,” said Mr Mazango.