Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
STAKEHOLDERS in the agro-processing sector are mobilising funds for timeous payments for locally produced wheat.
Zimbabwe expects to produce about 200 000 tonnes of wheat this season against a demand of 400 000 tonnes. The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe is mobilising funds to finance the importation of the 200 000 tonnes to cover the deficit.
Also, the agro processors are coming up with a comprehensive wheat buying programme ahead of the winter wheat harvest. The stakeholders will be meeting today (Thursday) to finalise the wheat buying arrangements at an indaba to be attended by members of GMAZ.
GMAZ has been supportive of Government’s Command Agriculture initiative and has committed to uptake the winter wheat harvest that is targeting a yield of at least five tonnes per hectare.
The millers also mobilised funds for grain purchases after they committed to uptake 800 000 tonnes of maize harvest from the command maize programme. At the indaba today, GMAZ members will receive a report on the expected harvest, an update on wheat buying price and buying quota allocations.
They will also deliberate on storage and allocations and import quota and payments methods, among other issues. The millers are currently engaged in a bruising fight with Government, in particular, the Ministry of Health and Child Care over the mandatory food fortification.
Wheat is among the food stuffs earmarked for mandatory food fortification. The Ministry of Health and Child Care set July 1 for the commencement of mandatory food fortification of selected food vehicles such as vegetable oils, sugar, wheat, flour and commercially milled maize meal arguing that it was cognisant of the primacy of disease prevention as opposed to curing and in particular the adverse results of growth retardation in children, low birth weight, reduced cognitive development, the increased risk of under — five mortality and reduced economic productivity emanating from failure to prevent micro-nutrient deficiency.
Last week GMAZ filed an application at the High Court pushing to have sections 4(i)(b) and (e), 5(b) and (e) and 7 of the Food Fortification Regulations 2016 made under and in terms of the Food and Food Standards Act (Chapter 15:04) set aside on the grounds that they were unreasonable and as a consequence, invalid.
The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa cited as the only respondent in the matter in his official capacity, is yet to file opposing papers. Government argued that prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies were extremely high and unacceptable especially among vulnerable groups including women of child bearing age and children.