By Ndafadza Madanha
PLAYERS in the wheat value chain are proposing a three tier system for the pricing of a loaf of bread.
If adopted the system will see bread graded into three categories namely low, standard and premium.
Proponents of the idea say the move will ensure margins in the value chain are spread evenly as farmers are rewarded for the production of high quality wheat.
The system closely resembles the one in use in South Africa which segments its bread on the bases of quality of wheat used to produce a loaf.
Currently farmers are paid a uniform price for their wheat regardless of quality a situation that has deterred the growing of high quality wheat.
The high quality wheat known as gristing is used in the production of bread and must have 28% glutton content.
While some have argued that Zimbabwe does not have the capacity to produce the gristing wheat, seed houses say they have developed the varieties in recent years.
Farmers choose not to grow the gristing wheat as its fetches the same price as the ordinary white wheat though it is of a higher quality but low yielding.
Zimbabwe requires 450 000mt of wheat annually but produces about 150 000 mt with the deficit augmented by imports at an estimated cost of US$60-100m.
An official with National Bakers of Zimbabwe Wallah said the inconsistencies in the value chain needed to be addressed to ensure that the customer access bread at affordable prices.
Another player in the value chain Blue Ribbon Zimbabwe executive Muze Kamal said the country had produced high quality wheat in the last two years.
He said what was now required was the up-scaling of production to ensure wheat is locally available.
“What millers want is flour that does not collapse when in the oven and for the last two years Zimbabwe has produced good quality wheat to make bread.The glutton content for wheat to make bread has been good and the same applies for self raising flour”.