Blog about the upcoming food shortage crisis

Everybody throws stones at the prophet, but when the crisis comes they yell: “Why nobody warned us?”

Zimbabwe sees lower food output, might need imports

Tue 4 Mar 2008, 11:18 GMT
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By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s food output this season could fall short of expectations due to lack of fertiliser and heavy rains, and imports may be needed to meet domestic needs, a report showed on Tuesday.
Since 2001 the southhern African nation hasgrappled with food shortages, which critics partly blame on President Robert Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks. They in turn lack adequate seed, fertiliser and fuel.
A crop assessment report by the agriculture ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organization, obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, said farmers had only received up to 10 percent of required fertiliser during the current 2007/8 summer farming season.
Producers had also failed to meet the targeted cropping area of 2 million hectares for the staple maize grain mainly due to shortages of fuel, which along with electricity, foreign currency and water shortages mark a devastating economic crisis gripping the country.
“The total expected production from this season may not meet the expected targets,” said the report, compiled after a crop assessment exercise carried out from Feb 3-11.
“For this reason there is need to look into contigency plans for food imports,” it said, adding that a final assessment would be conducted early next month.
Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo was unavailable for comment but he has previously said Zimbabwe would produce 3 million tonnes of maize this year, more than the country’s needs.
Food shortages have helped drive prices higher, pushing inflation past 100,000 percent in January and adding political pressure on Mugabe, who faces a challenge from a former ally and the main opposition leader at the polls later this month.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, will contest for the presidency against former finance minister Simba Makoni, who was expelled from the ruling party three weeks ago and long time rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Zimbabwe, which has lost its status as the regions’s bread basket status over the last seven years, has had to import grain from South Africa, Zambia and Malawi.
Last December, Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi said the food import bill was expected to more than double in 2007 to $405 million, straining the country’s scarce foreign exchange resources.
Mugabe denies his policies have plunged a once prosperous country into crisis and instead blames Western powers for punitive sanctions he says have crippled the economy.
© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved



March 4, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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