A new US$320 000 bakeries and milling plant which is set to produce more than 20 000 loaves of bread per day was officially opened by the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Simangaliso Ndlovu in Gweru yesterday.
By Delicious Mathuthu
Minister Ndlovu the initiative is the government’s new paradigm shift to decentralizing production into the communities at the same time ensuring affordability of basic goods to locals.
“Our task as the government is to promote and facilitate the setting up of industries within the communities in order to cut down on delivery costs and create employment for the local people and DCK has taken the lead in this direction.
“I am reliably informed that the bakery whose investment was around US$320 000 has a capacity to produce 20 000 loaves a day.
“This new investment will bring the number of bakeries in Gweru to three with a daily combined production capacity of more than 27 000 loaves,” Ndlovu said.
The bakery, which produces bread from 100 per cent locally sourced ingredients and owned by prominent business Douglas Kwande of the DCK supermarket, which becomes the entity’s third bakery in the city.
The company produces its own wheat on a 400-hectare farm which they then mill into flower before processing it into bread which they, in turn, distribute through their supermarkets at RTGS$2.50 each.
Minister Ndlovu said such initiatives if supported and expanded will reduce the huge bill on imported wheat which is currently costing the country more than US$20 million monthly.
“All along they said our wheat is not good enough to make bread but through DCK who made extensive research, it has shown that local wheat produces fairly good bread.
“DCK has also gone further to have a vertically integrated business model in the bread operation that is from wheat farming to milling, baking and distribution through its supermarkets,” he said.
Ndlovu said the country is currently harvesting three to four month’s supply of wheat while the remaining eight months has to be imported.
He challenged DCK to expand its operations and venture into subcontracting in the growing of wheat to increase the wheat supply base and expand income distribution in the country.
Currently, the bakery and milling plant employs about 70 people bringing the total employees under the DCK Group to 265.
Midlands Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Senator Larry Mavima encouraged locals to support the bakery which is bent on providing low-cost quality bread for the local communities.
“The two investments we are witnessing this afternoon ducktail with the new thinking in the government of establishing such ventures in the communities so that products are near the consumers and also a way of cutting down on transport costs,” he said
He said people should not rely on imported products from other provinces which become expensive due to transport costs as they are shipped from places like Harare.
Kwande said his job is to provide solutions to community problems and he intends to expand his operations beyond Gweru.
“Our job is solving problems, I am an entrepreneur and my job is to provide solutions when we see problems because no outsider will come to solve our problems.
“Our vision is to expand the bakeries across the nation if funds are availed and already the company has bought a bakery in Kwekwe which will start operating in June,” Mr Kwande said.
The bakery initiative comes in the backdrop of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call earlier this year that government will soon be supporting the opening of small bakeries across the country to counter market price distortions of bread in the economy.