from BERTA MADIME in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – THE imminent launch of the first bread factory in Mozambique has been a divisive issue pitting government and the owners against traditional bakeries in the beleaguered and volatile industry.
The government of President Filipe Nyusi, which has previously clashed with bakeries over plans by the sector to increase the price, has hailed the factory ahead of the facility’s inauguration as a new in the production of the staple food.Known as the Espiga de Ouro (Gold’s ear) will initially supply the capital Maputo, the industrial city of Matola and eventually the nearby provinces of Gaza and Inhambane.
The US$50 million (MZN4 trillion) factory is the property of the premier group, Mica, an established business group in the Southern African country.
Hussein Ali, the chairman of the board of the directors in Espiga de Ouro,said the factory would produce about 2 million loaves of bread daily.
The project, according to the company, will create more than 1 200 jobs along all the value chain.
“We will produce an average of 1,5 million normal loaves per day. Meanwhile, 750 000 round loaves will also be generated in the same process,” Ali said.
The business executive added the new modality of work would reverse the current artisanal production of bread used in most of the about 2 000 bakeries around the country.
“In the new factory, all the processes will be done by machines. From the moment we put the wheat until the bread is ready.”The factory will operate for 22 hours daily.
Ali disclosed the factory would use 20 000 tonnes of wheat flour to be sourced locally.
The move is anticipated to boost the general economy of the country, which is estimated to produce around 22 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
“The Government, through the Mozambican Grains Institute, has a strategy to ensure that wheat we produce in the Tsangano district, in the western province of Tete is supplied to this industry,” the minister of industry and trade, Ernesto Max Tonela, said.
However, artisanal bakeries are against the imminent operation of the new kid on the bakery block.
While the public welcomes the factory, the Mozambican Association of Bakeries (Amopao) claimed the factory will cause the loss of about 25 000 jobs considering it is mechanised.
“To provide a monopoly of bread to destroy 25 000 jobs in Mozambique is bad,” said Imtiaz Amugy on behalf of the association.
Amugy argued the Espiga de Ouro would bring instability to the bread market.
“They should partner with other companies already working in that sector instead,” Amugy proposed.
The imminent inauguration of the bread factory coincides with Mozambique recently suspending a subsidy to bakeries after the Institute for Standardization and Quality and the Mozambican inspection of economic activities established that some bakeries were selling bread which was lightweight, against the country’s regulations.
A standard loaf should weigh at least 200 grammes but inspectors found some bakeries where loaves weighing as little as 120 grammes passed off as standard loaves.
The subsidies on bread and fuel were introduced in the wake of food riots in 2010. A 30 percent increase in the price of bread and double digit percentage increases in fuel and water enraged Mozambicans into the streets.
Over a dozen were killed. Two years earlier, at least seven people died during similar riots.
Constantino Marrengula, a local economist, argued the industrial production of bread inescapable.
“The time has come for a new player to join the Mozambican market in the sector of bread production. Those in the same sector will need to adapt themselves and find new ways to keep their space in the market,” said the economist.Government has also expressed its support.
“We are sure that the industrial production of bread will provide dynamism to the bread market,” Tonela said.
He said the entrance of a new player and subsequent competition would retain stability and compliance.
“The price of bread will be stabilized. The weight of the bread, which many times is disrespected by producers in the country, will now be respected,” Tonela said.
– CAJ News