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Zimbabwe Looks  to Food Donations to Feed Half the Country - 2003-07-29

The Zimbabwe government has told donor nations it has set aside no foreign currency to import food during the next year, and will depend entirely on the donors to feed nearly half the population.

In a document provided to donors by the Zimbabwe government, there is no provision for any home grown solution to the food crisis.

The Zimbabwe government says it will have a shortfall of more than 700,000 tons of grain in the next year. It has made no plans either to import grain to cover some of the shortfall, or to facilitate private sector imports even though many people do have money to buy food.

The government prohibits all private importation of grain, and allows only its Grain Marketing Board to trade in cereals.

Well placed sources at the donors meeting Tuesday said the big donors were dismayed to discover the Zimbabwe government is expecting them to feed all those in need. They said raising money for Zimbabwe this year may not be as easy as it was last year.

Luis Clemens, an official with the UN World Food Program in Zimbabwe, explained there is a lot of competition for food donations at present, particularly from the Horn of Africa.

The Zimbabwe government was six weeks late in presenting donors with its estimates of food needs.

The United Nations says drought is only partially to blame for Zimbabwe's food crisis and that three years of government seizures of productive farm land, which now lies fallow, was a major contributor to Zimbabwe's deepening humanitarian crisis.