THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has acquired 100 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa and Brazil with the first consignment of the staple starting to trickle into the country early next week.
Speaking to journalists soon after meeting various stakeholders in Bulawayo Tuesday, GMAZ chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara said the grain was being procured by millers using free funds.
The government in December last year made a decision to allow millers and other players to bring in maize into the country using their free funds.
"We met with our key stakeholders, retailers and millers to discuss mealie meal shortages. Early December last year, the government made a decision to allow millers and other players to bring in maize into the country using free funds.
"Since then, up to now, I am glad we have put mechanisms to have maize into the country. The country's current demand for commercial (maize) use is 80 000 tonnes and we have signed up close to 100 000 tonnes with the immediate 50 000 starting to come early next week," said Musarara.
The GMAZ boss said the association has already put in place the necessary logistics to make sure that the grain is brought into the country.
"We have of course our own limitations in terms of logistics, but we are making contingent plans... as the grain millers association, we have aggregated our requirements.
"The subsidy started on a rocky note, but I am glad to advise that everything has been resolved," he said.
Musarara said some millers have successfully registered with some still in the process of fulfilling the requirement.
"Any miller who has all the necessary documents in place is guaranteed to participate in the subsidy programme. The subsidy programme will also cover maize meal produced from imported maize," he said.
Musarara also expressed concern over increasing cases of subsidised mealie meal finding its way onto the black market.
"We are worried with the extent of our products especially here in Bulawayo which is being sold on the black market. We know the products can leak either in the millers' place or retailers' place and then we now have professional buyers who just go and queue for everything, who buy the mealie meal and go and sell it.
"We believe that as business, the best way to kill that market is by flooding the black market. So, we are aiming with the maize imports, we are starting to receive next week, the situation should stabilise in the next three to five weeks, but supplies will start to notice as from next week," he said.
He added that roller meal from the sourced grain will be strictly sold through wholesalers and retailers.
The country has been hit by a critical shortage of mealie meal, a development which has led to some retail outlets rationing the commodity.
Some unscrupulous informal traders in the city are now taking advantage of the scarcity of mealie meal by selling the commodity on the black market at exorbitant prices.