Harare (New Ziana) – Small to medium sized millers from across the country who have banded together to form a new association on Tuesday said they are eager to play a bigger role in the government roller meal subsidy programme to ensure adequate supply of affordable maize-meal in the market.
The association, dubbed the Small to Medium Millers Association of Zimbabwe (SMMAZ), was formed recently to cater for the needs of smaller players in the sector.
Late last year, government introduced a roller meal subsidy programme to cushion citizens from the increasing cost of maize-meal.
SMMAZ interim chairman Davis Muhambi said the association’s main focus was to ensure that smaller millers played a bigger role in providing affordable maize-meal to the nation.
“We also intend to use our strategic contacts within the region and beyond to secure grain at reasonable prices,” he said.
“Ultimately the goal is to augment government’s efforts to ensure that all citizens, especially vulnerable groups, have access to cheap and affordable maize meal.”
In future, Muhambi said the association would support farmers through contract farming schemes to boost local maize production.
“In future, participating in contract farming supported by an irrigation programme is very important so that there is sustainable production of grains including maize and wheat for our members. Grains are the bulk of our raw materials, they are our business.
“We are looking into models of financing these programmes with both local and international partners, we are taking these and other such initiatives one day at a time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Muhambi said SMMAZ was born out of the realisation that this segment of millers was not being adequately represented when bundled up with bigger players in the industry.
“It was therefore imperative that small to medium sized millers be given a home and an identity that portrayed them as such, obviously riding on the global perception, understanding and hallmarks of what SME’s are today. This would then put us on a platform that allows our stakeholders to easily identify with us so that we can articulate the common struggles faced by millers in this category more effectively.”
According to Muhambi, a small to medium miller is one that has a minimum capacity to process one ton per hour at any given site and up to a combined 15 tons per hour nationally or at numerous sites, per grain type.
Millers of all grains including wheat and all small grains are eligible to join the association, he said.
He said SMMAZ’s entry into the milling industry was also meant to complement the already existing Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ).
“There is ample space for the two associations to co-exist and progressively complement each other. The only competition, if any, which we envisage with or from GMAZ is of a progressive nature, a contestation of minds and ideas to move our sector forward.
“Ultimately, it is our sector, our members and our beloved country that benefit from this type of healthy competition. This is what SMMAZ ultimately aspires and stands for,” he said.
Muhambi added; “It was a very unhealthy situation to have one voice on the table. Our existence will undoubtedly have the progressive consequence, desired or not, of shaping GMAZ going into the future. They too, will keep us in check all to the benefit of the sector.”