Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter
Local grain milling firms have approached the Ministry of Energy and Power Development seeking exemption from power cuts so as to keep production running and meet mealie meal and flour demand.
Like other industries in the country, the millers are battling erratic power supplies that are crippling operations. This is in addition to limited foreign currency.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairman Tafadzwa Musarara, said millers had made a formal request to the Ministry of Energy to ring-fence selected milling companies to ensure constant power supplies as well as production. Of the over 90 milling companies in the country, at least 10 of these will be exempt from power outages, if the application is successful.
Mr Musarara said while the country was making progress in securing grain, power shortages posed a threat to the availability of flour, mealie meal as well as stock feeds due to low production time.
“The biggest challenge we are facing as an industry now, like any other, is unavailability of electricity,” said Mr Musarara responding to questions at Blue Ribbon complex in the capital recently after announcing a new partner who will finance the importation of wheat in the country.
“Blue Ribbon is the second biggest miller in the country and is the worst hit by power outages due to the area it is located. We are working with Ministry of Energy and have made a formal request for certain millers to be ring-fenced and exempt from load shedding. This is to ensure that the maize meal, flour and other such products are available on the market.
“At the moment we have seen decline in some maize meal on account of electricity challenges, we just want about 10 millers ring-fenced to ensure constant product supply,” he said.
Mr Musarara added there had been reports on maize meal shortages as some millers had been brought to a standstill due to erratic power supplies. Running the milling machinery on alternative sources of energy such as generators is unsustainable.