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Imports cripple milling industry?

18 Dec 2020 at 06:07hrs | Views
THE local milling industry's capacity utilisation has dropped below 20 percent as maize meal and flour imports pile pressure on local producers.

The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), the umbrella body for the milling companies has raised fears that the sector could suffer massive job losses due to loss of business amid weakening grip on domestic market.

In a position paper on import duty and surtax imposition on imported mealie-meal and wheat flour, the millers now want the Government to cap the quantity of imports as well as review import permits.

The Government gazetted Statutory Instrument No 119 of 2020, which suspended import duty on maize meal and wheat flour in May this year as part of measures to enhance supplies of basics.

The move was prompted by challenges in mobilising maize and wheat imports due to Covid-19-lockdown related difficulties.

The Government then instructed the milling industry to also assist by importing some of the maize and wheat.

Since April, GMAZ said its members have imported 148 000 tonnes of wheat and 160 000 tonnes of maize.

"Regrettably the milling industry's capacity utilisation is below 20 percent due to the local market which is flooded with imported maize-meal and wheat flour," said GMAZ.

Due to reduced domestic milling capacity, GMAZ has warned that production of maize and wheat bran (key ingredient in the production of stockfeed) has also diminished.

It noted that Malawi and Zambia have banned the exports of bran, leaving local stockfeed manufacturers in short supply.

"This development has potential to trigger price increase of stockfeeds as supply will be dwarfed by demand. This will inevitably see prices of meat and dairy products increasing," said the association.

In order to enhance national food security and provide viability in the grain milling and livestock value chains, the millers have urged the Government to consider its recommendations.

Source - chroncile
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