Bread prices in Zimbabwe have reportedly increased by at least 70% - the highest increase since the introduction of multiple currencies in 2009. According to Daily News, the bread price increase came at the back of a shocking fuel price increase last month and was the fourth increase in just 12 months. A loaf of bread which was last month R18 ($1.40) is now set to cost at least R28 ($2.10) and R31 ($2.35). The president of the National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe, Ngoni Mazango has confirmed the bread price increase, adding that this was due to currency challenges facing the southern African country. Some bakers have also argued that the bread price increase was also due to various factors, which included high fuel prices and wheat shortages. According to New Zimbabwe.com, the Grain Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) said bread prices increases had nothing to do with flour prices, as they remained unchanged. In a statement, GMAZ spokesperson Gerikai Chaunza said the price hikes were not related to flour prices. “The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has noted the recent increase in bread prices. These bread price increases are however not in any way associatiated with flour cost drivers as the products (flour) supply price to bakers has remained constant,” Chaunza was quoted as saying. Chaunza, however, admitted that flour supplies remained “suppressed due to the non-availability of foreign currency to bring in imported wheat which is still held in Beira, Mozambique.”This came a month after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a sharp increase in fuel prices in a measure to improve supplies as the country struggles with its worst petrol shortages in a decade.After years in international isolation, Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn for more than a decade with cash shortages, high unemployment and recently a scarcity of basic staples like bread and cooking oil, according to AFP. In an address on state television last month, Mnangagwa said prices of petrol and diesel would more than double to tackle a shortfall caused by increased fuel usage and illegal trading.He said petrol prices would rise to R44.29 ($3.31) from R16.59 ($1.24) a litre and diesel prices to R41.15 ($3.11) from R18.19 ($1.36) a litre.According to AP, at least 12 people were killed after the country's largest trade union federation called for a national shutdown due to the fuel price hikes, which were announced by the president. Police and soldiers launched a large-scale operation against suspected protestors, activists and organisers of the strike, which was triggered by the sharp rise in fuel prices.Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTERFOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook.