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Zimbabwe Newspapers Warn of New Water, Food Shortages

State media in Zimbabwe are warning of new problems in the nation's food and water supplies.

The Herald newspaper reports Monday that three major producers of crop fertilizer have closed because of power cuts and a lack of raw materials.

It says the three companies, Dorowa Mine, Iron Duke Mine, and Zimphos, stopped operating last month.

A report today in the state-run Chronicle says the government's grain distribution body, the Grain Marketing Board, has failed to collect corn from farmers in rural areas due to poor roads and a shortage of bags.

The newspaper also said officials are planning cuts in the water supply to Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe is suffering nationwide food shortages because of drought and what critics say are years of misguided government policies.

Agricultural production has plunged since 2000, when the government began seizing white-owned commercial farms. Many of the farms went to blacks with little or no farming experience.

The food shortages are partially responsible for an inflation rate that passed 7,500 percent last month.

President Robert Mugabe blames the problems on a Western conspiracy led by Britain.