Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
Government has issued 68 permits for the importation of 140 000 metric tonnes of maize-meal valued at an estimated $60 million, in the process attracting the ire of local millers who feel its a way of destroying the country’s milling industry.
Millers argue that Government should import grain which local millers can value add instead of importing mealie-meal, a finished product. The millers, who have also devised an elaborate plan to import grain, said they will not be able to market the mealie- meal they would have produced from the imported grain due to price differentials with the imported mealie-meal.
“This massive and unjustified importation of maize-meal militates against the ongoing maize importation by private millers who then fail to obtain market for the maize imported,” said Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara.
GMAZ is the representative body for millers in Zimbabwe.
The latest revelations also come as Government is importing more than 700 000 metric tonnes of maize to fight the effects of the El- Nino induced drought.
Information seen by The Herald Business yesterday shows that between January and March this year, Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Department, issued permits to 68 companies and individuals to import 139 330 metric tonnes of mealie-meal.
The information shows that Rightpath Investments was issued with permit number 18821 on January 14 to import 2 000mt from South Africa to distribute to areas such as Umzingwane, Matobo, Mangwe and Bulilima.
The following day, four companies were given permits to import mealie meal, namely, Rifking Trading permit number 18837 to import 1500mt from Zambia, Tsumirakhi Investments permit number 18827, Bayfound Trading permit number 18829 for 1 500mt and Spring Elegance, all to import from South Africa.
These companies were authorised to distribute to areas such as Gwanda North and South, Insiza North and South, Ngundu, Chipinge, Mberengwa, Chivi and Shurugwi.
On January 18, six companies were permitted to import 13 200mt from South Africa, namely Lion Stores permit number 18844 for 3 000mt, Simrac Enterprises permit number 18840 for 2 000mt, Hyperclass Investments permit number 18845 for 3000mt, Nelrona Trading permit number 19111 for 10 00mt, Rayclash Trading permit number 18839 for 1 200mt and Vegra Merchants (Pvt) Ltd permit number 18835 for 3000mt.
Other companies that received permits include Bhagaiji Brothers for the importation of 5 000mt of mealie-meal under permit number 19126 from South Africa to supply to areas such as Gwanda, Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and Tsholotsho.
Omega S Hungwe and John Mudiya will import 600mt from South Africa under permit numbers 19244 and 22447 respectively, while Waltrop Investments are importing 3 000mt under permit 22635 to distribute in Gutu, Zaka and Masvingo.
Many other companies also received import permits drawing the ire of the GMAZ.
“This amount equates to 15 percent of the national’s annual commercial maize-meal market,” GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said in a statement.
“Unless these permits are cancelled forthwith, the imported maize-meal will affect producer prices of maize for the 2015 /6 farming season, as millers will not have appetite for the maize due to depressed market share, occurring as a result of glut of imported products,” said Mr Musarara.