GRAIN millers have expressed fears that the El Nino effect projected to affect the country in the coming summer cropping season will have adverse effects on grain production and possible affect stocks.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairperson, Mr Tafadzwa Musarara, said this while addressing journalists in Bulawayo last Thursday. He said the milling industry was already brainstorming on possible measures to mitigate any possible reduction in grain stocks.
“We are trying to strategise on how best this situation can be met because the El Nino effect will affect both us and our neighbouring countries. This means that we will need to import maize from far away countries,” said Mr Musarara.
Although farmers have in the past years been encouraged to plant small grains which are more drought resistant, the millers association chairperson said the call was being met with resistance in some circles.
“Switching to small grains has been part of our strategic plans with farmers, as it seems to be more viable especially as we are bracing towards an El Nino. Farmers are however, reluctant to venture fully into small grains as the market is still low. Small grains are highly met with hostility from consumers as most people tend to think that they are too traditional and backward,” said Mr Musarara.
He said there was a need for the public to be educated on advantages of eating small grains such as millet, sorghum and rapoko as non-communicable and lifestyle diseases are on the increase.
“We call on the media and other stakeholders to educate the public on the benefits of small grains. Many times when diabetic people seek medical attention, they are told to switch to small grains for starch and dump white maize meal. We are however, in business and at the moment can do what the money wants because that is where the money is,” said Mr Musarara.
He assured the public that they would work tirelessly in collaboration with the Government to ensure that there would be no shortages of supplies in the country.
The Meteorological Services Department recently predicted that the country is headed for an El Nino. El Ninos usually last for two years and are often characterised by low and erratic rainfall, with high temperatures.