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Zimbabwe Moves to Import Large Quantities of Food


Zimbabwe's food crisis is worsening and the government has formed a task force to handle the crisis. Sources say the government will appeal for food donations from the international community.

The Grain Marketing Board, Zimbabwe's only legal grain trader, has around 88,000 tons of stored maize, according to statistics submitted to the government and has ordered 150,000 tons from South Africa, according to grain suppliers there.

Also contributing to shortages are planting delays. According to the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, which represents more than 100,000 small-scale farmers, unavailability of seed maize, late availability of fertilizer and lack of power for plowing contributing to a diminished crop.

As a result, Zimbabwe's maize deficit is expected to be about 1 million tons, and about 700,000 tons will have to be imported before the next harvest in a year's time.

Though the government has not confirmed it because they say they are still estimating the size of this year's crop, analysts say it will likely authorize an international appeal for food aid in June.

Last year President Robert Mugabe suggested that Zimbabwe was on the road to self-sufficency. He told the international community that Zimbabweans had grown 2.4 million tons of maize and the population would choke if donors continued to provide food.

Since the collapse of commercial agriculture in 2001, which impacted heavily on peasant farmers, western countries, through the World Food Program and US/AID provided food for up to 5.5 million people, or nearly half the population until late last year.

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