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Bread Shortages Worsen As Zimbabwe State Wheat Stocks Dwindle

Chronic bread shortages in Zimbabwe are set to get even worse as the country's sole supplier of wheat, the state monopoly Grain Marketing Board is said to have exhausted its supplies leaving bakers unable to turn out product.

The Zimbabwe Independent, a weekly private-sector newspaper, reported Friday that the Grain Marketing Board has not been able to raise the US$10 million needed to get 36,000 metric tonnes held in Beira, Mozambique, released by its seller.

Zimbabwe's winter wheat crop this year is expected to be the worst in decades due to a shortage of inputs like fertilizer and frequent power cuts that curtailed irrigation. Experts expect the harvest to be far below last year’s 128,000 metric tonnes.

On the brighter side, the Famine Early Warning System reported this week that the government is ahead of schedule importing maize following the delivery of some 115,000 tonnes procured from Malawi, which enjoyed a bumper harvest.

FEWSNET said however that a large gap remains to be filled, reiterating it is worried about the limited distribution capacity of the Grain Marketing Board. Grain Marketing Board management could not be reached for comment.

Harare consumer Taurai Chidyausiku told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his family is now baking its own bread using maize meal - also in short supply but still available at a price - instead of wheat flour.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...