Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
THE private sector initiative to import two million tonnes of maize for livestock and human consumption by June next year received a major boost as Mozambican rail and ports authorities guaranteed a 10-day turnaround time and lower tariffs for grain destined for Zimbabwe at a meeting held in the capital yesterday. This development will ensure improved product availability on the market and will also stabilise prices, private sector players said following successful meetings with the National Railways of Zimbabwe and the visiting Mozambique’s national rail company, Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique officials yesterday.
Zimbabwe is one of the first southern African countries that have secured the ports in Maputo for the importation maize and wheat as the private sector moves in to assist Government to alleviate hunger induced by a drought .
“We had a meeting with the NRZ and CFM to negotiate and conclude the logistics plan for moving two million tonnes of maize between now and June 2017. “This is going to be one of the biggest logistics deal ever to be signed in the country,” Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said yesterday.
Apart from the millers, officials from the NRZ and CFM, the meeting drew stakeholders from major logistics companies, who included Bak Storage, Government and grain importers such as Holbud Limited and PHI Commodities.
“We have brought in all key logistics companies that we need for the period between now and June 2017. We are ready as the private sector to provide the product both for livestock and for human consumption. The funds are available,” said Mr Musarara.
Some of the key highlights that came out of the meeting include a guarantee by the Mozambicans for lower tariffs and a 10-day turnaround time which means movement of grain will be expedited once it docks at ports in that country.
“We have been promised that our shipments of maize docking at Maputo for the southern region will go via Chicualacula or Sango border post. We have preference. The same goes for Beira which we are going to feed into east and northern part of the country will be expedited.
“The tariffs will be lower than usual so that the landed price in the country would not change much. From a commercial perspective we can commit to our consumers that based on the outcome of this meeting the mealie-meal and other related products will be available despite the drought,” said Mr Musarara.
Zimbabwe is facing a drought as the country has received below normal rainfall. The logistics plan to move the two million tonnes of maize for livestock and human consumption will be spearheaded by seven importers who have been granted permits to move grain.
“We have seven importers who are going to do cross-ocean imports trading picking up grain from the South Americas, Brazil and Mexico, the North Americas, Ukraine and Russia. So we are picking maize from all over the world bringing it into the country through the seven importers.”
“We have been guaranteed that permits will be issued as and when they fall due but for now what was key was to put the logistics in place so that they will be encouraged to venture into the importation programme,” said Mr Musarara. The milling industry is bracing to move at least 120 000 tonnes per month through Mozambique hence the discussions to ensure smooth movement of grain.