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ANOTHER BREAD PRICE HIKE LOOMS newsdzeZimbabweNewsdzeZimbabwe

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ZIMBABWEANS should brace for another bread price hike after
the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) increased the price of wheat by 30%, industry
officials said yesterday.

NewsDay understands that GMB increased wheat prices from
$239 000 to $310 000 per tonne in local currency, or US$680 at the interbank
rate.

National Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Dennis
Walla said players in the sector would be forced to also increase the bread
price to cover operational costs.

“Wheat is a major component in the baking of bread. So when
GMB increases the price, it affects the pricing of bread,” he said in an
interview.

A loaf of bread is currently pegged at $790 or US$1,75
using the interbank rate in retail shops. On the streets, bread is being sold
for US$1 plus $200 to $300.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe corporate affairs
manager Andrew Kunambura said they were trying to negotiate with GMB over the
latest wheat price increase.

“I can confirm that there are price increases, but there
are negotiations to try and find a way of preventing further increases in the
bread value chain,” he said.

GMB chief executive Rockie Mutenha could not be reached for
comment.

However, reports indicate that GMB has also increased the
producer price of maize and traditional grains from $75 000 to $100 000, but
maintained the price of US$90.

The producer price of a tonne of soya beans is now $228 666
up from $171 495, but is unchanged at US$90 in foreign currency.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the
looming bread price increase was a sad development for the country’s workforce,
already grappling with the rising cost of living while salaries remain
stagnant.

ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said further worsening
the situation was that employers were struggling to keep pace with rising
operational costs in an inflationary environment.

“Bread is a staple food. Every family relies on bread. Once
you increase the cost of wheat, it automatically affects the majority of
people. Those that are high class in society go out for lunch and dinner, but
the majority survive on bread to get through the day,” Moyo said.

“Families might not be able to get the food that they
always depend on. It is a sad development at a time when collective bargaining
in various sectors has not been producing anything. There are deadlocks, people
are not concluding any agreements. Employers are not raising wages.”

Inflation reached 256,9% in July, from 191,6% recorded in
June, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

National Consumer Rights Association spokesperson Effie
Ncube said the bread price hike would increase hunger in the country.

“The increase in the price of wheat will inevitably drive
up the price of bread and related confectioneries and as such, sink even more
people below the food poverty line. This will contribute to increased hunger in
the country, an outcome that will have devastating consequences,” Ncube said. Newsday




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