By Wellington Zimbowa
GRAIN Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMZ) have implored the Government to reintroduce import duty on maize meal and flour to cushion the country’s milling industry that is now under siege from flooding cereal imports from other countries.
In May, government gazetted the Statutory Instrument No. 119 of 2020, suspending import duty on grain products such as Maize Meal (Commodity Code:1103.13.20) and Wheat Flour (Commodity Code:1101.00.10) and Commodity Code: 1101.00.20).
The thrust was to guarantee enough market supplies for maize-meal and bread-flour following challenges by GMB to ensure enough harnessing of the products due to the COVID -19 pandemic as a result of the lockdowns.
Since April this year, a total of 148 000 Metric Tonnes (mt) of wheat and +160,000mt of maize have been imported into the country.
In a statement, GMAZ says capacity utilisation by the industry has plummeted to -20% as imported maize-meal and wheat flour floods the country.
“Consequently, production of maize and wheat bran (key ingredient in the production of stockfeed) has also diminished.
“Malawi and Zambia have banned the exports of bran, leaving local stockfeed manufacturers in short supply,” said GMAZ.
The miller representative body feels that the development can trigger price increase for stockfeed as “supply is dwarfed by demand.”
GMAZ is thus calling for revoking of this legal instrument as part of the necessary efforts to enhance national food security as well as viability for grain milling and livestock value chains through the re-imposition of import duty.
“SI 119 of 2020 must not be renewed and import duty of 40% and surtax of 40% be imposed on maize meal (Commodity Code:1103.13.20) and flour (Commodity Code:1101.00.10 and Commodity Code: 1101.00.20),” said GMAZ.
“The amount of imported maize meal and flour must be capped in order to provide market space for local millers.
“Permits issued under the Control of Goods Act must be capped at 10,000 metric tonnes per month, policed thoroughly and all smuggled imported maize-meal and flour curtailed.”
GMAZ notes that continued importation of maize meal will affect the financial aid to farmers by financial institutions over fears of business viability and threatens local job creation.
By Wellington Zimbowa