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EU Financial Aid Allows Zimbabwe to Buy Grain - 2003-08-14

The European Union this week donated enough money for Zimbabwe to immediately import 60,000 metric tons of grain. The United Nations said that, without aid, Zimbabwe would run out of food in two weeks.

Even though Zimbabwe's grain harvest ended recently, there is not enough food stored at the government-controlled grain marketing board, the only authorized distributor of grain. The U.N. World Food Program also says Zimbabwe's government has no money available for food imports.

Last month, the WFP appealed for help, and the European Union was the first to respond. It is widely expected that western countries, particularly the United States and Britain, will also respond to the U.N. appeal.

The United Nations says Zimbabwe was hit the hardest by a drought in southern Africa. But agricultural economists say the main cause of Zimbabwe's food shortage is the government's three-year-old land reform program, which has driven white farmers off the land and caused farm production to plummet.

Public records show that Zimbabwe managed to cope with droughts and erratic rains in previous years. It had grown enough food to feed the people and earn foreign currency from exports. This year, it has neither.