News

    Zimbabwe Agriculture Struggles to Meet Demand

    Zimbabwean peasant farmer Munyaradzi Mudapakati holds spinach at his farm in Chinhamora, about 50 km north of Harare on Febuary 10, 2011.
    Zimbabwean peasant farmer Munyaradzi Mudapakati holds spinach at his farm in Chinhamora, about 50 km north of Harare on Febuary 10, 2011.

    Zimbabwe was once southern Africa's breadbasket.

    But today it is a basket case, where people depend on handouts for food.

    For more than 10 consecutive years since President Robert Mugabe’s government embarked on a land reform program targeting white farmers, Zimbabwe has had to import food to avert hunger as its new farmers cannot produce enough.

    On Tuesday, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the treasury had released $20 million to farmers to buy inputs - seeds, fertilizer and other farming materials.  At the same news conference, Minister of Agriculture Joseph Made said a third of the country’s planted crop for the 2012 season was a write-off, since farmers did not have irrigation systems and were too poor to buy required inputs on time.

    "It is clear if you bring inputs late in the season you cannot take advantage.  Cropping is a function of time," said Made.  "The season does not wait.  I hope in what we are doing are correcting the situation so that never again are the inputs are delayed…. The second point is that when we are talking of agriculture farmers suffer the vagaries of weather. That you cannot control. The best is to assist farmers by development of irrigation."

    Zimbabwe had plenty of food until 2000.  Since then it has been a different story since President Mugabe’s government launched its land reform program.  Almost all white commercial farmers were replaced by inexperienced farmers, mainly supporters of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. It is these farmers that Made wants helped in erecting irrigation systems to water their crops.

    The deposed white farmers had irrigation systems, but the new farmers mostly destroyed them when they took over the farms, often by force.

    "There is a move towards market-related solutions towards agriculture, bearing in mind our incapacity as a state to look fully after our people," said Finance Minister Biti.  "This is a move we are making which reflected in this program we are launching today."

    It remains to be seen if these untrained farmers are able to survive on their own without being assisted by the government, as has been the case since the land reform started.

    Critics have said Zimbabwe's government should have trained the farmers before allocating them land to them.  Tuesday, when asked to reveal how farmers had performed and whether Zimbabwe needed to import food in 2012, Agriculture Minister Made said exact figures are still not available, but production will not be what was expected.

    "I know you might be looking for [a] specific figure.  You have to wait a little bit.  That has to be briefed to [the] cabinet first. But of the 1.7 million hectares that were planted, 500,000 hectares will be a write off," said Made.

    The $20 million in aid to farmers announced Tuesday is meant to increase size of the winter crop, especially wheat.  The southern African country requires 406,000 metric tons of wheat annually to meet local demands.  Made said the funding would result in wheat production increasing to 76,000 metric tons.

    The United Nations estimates that at least 1.5 million people need food aid in Zimbabwe. With the latest revelations, the number of people who need food assistance is almost certain to increase.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Mike Watkins
    April 11, 2012 1:17 AM
    they must die of starvation with pus filled eyes. that's what they voted into power.if you wish to be responsibilities of one.we have the same ongoing in SA. farming is a profession that requires education if you do not have that then it does not matter how many tractors you buy these useless creatures.let them die like theirNorth Korean benefactors.they must learn to become part of the human race the hard way. race does not define intelligence so why must these ZANU PF morons be given credit?

    by: Robert Moffett
    April 10, 2012 12:48 PM
    It was only a matter of time. The white African farmers of Zimbabwe were forced off their land or murdered. The farmers replacing the white farmers had no modern farming skills. Now the breadbasket of Africa will go begging for food. the same will happen in South Africa where over 3000 white African farmers have been butchered sice apartheid ended. The media is silent about the slaughtering of white Africans. I hope hungry Africans can eat the cries of the farmers they gutted.

    by: Albert
    April 10, 2012 12:38 PM
    Those poor devils were too easily led by that %^8*^$%^
    Mugabe. They should have run him off instead of Whitey!
    Not all of the blacks wanted to take the land away, they had jobs and an income with the former owners, perhaps not large incomes, but a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.

    by: Mac
    April 10, 2012 12:38 PM
    THESE PEOPLE ARE INCOMPETENT FOOLS THAT HAVE RUINED WHAT WAS ONCE A THRIVING ECONOMY. sAY WHAT YOU WANT ABOUT THE RHODESIANS, BUT THEY COULD GROW CROPS AND RUN A COUNTRY ECONOMICALLY. ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS REVERT BACK TO THAT IDIOT PRESIDENT CARTER WHO THOUGHT COMMUNIST THUGS COULD RUN A COUNTRY,

    by: bob
    April 10, 2012 12:14 PM
    And this is a suprise? lmfao.

    by: Peter the Farmer
    April 10, 2012 11:50 AM
    The difference between the 2 tyrant is that Libya has Oil, Rhodesia doesnt!! The first one has been removed and disposed of, the second one is on it's way to hell! Next is going to be the UN asking for donations for Zimbabwe.... and the money will end up in the pockets of the Zanu supporters....the populace will starve.......

    by: Peter the Farmer
    April 10, 2012 11:49 AM
    First Gaddafi, now Mugabe! The later followed in the steps of the first with disastrous efficiency. Both instigated a "Green Revolution" both kicked out the "White Farmers" Both Failed in their aim!! Both countries where able to feed their people and export some!

    by: Michael
    April 10, 2012 11:48 AM
    This is a problem completely of Zimbabwe's making and they deserve every bit of it. They should receive no foreign aid until Mugabe is gone and they have competent leadership who will not squander the aid on themselves.

    by: Zvopo
    April 10, 2012 11:36 AM
    Zimbabwe was never a bread and basket of Africa! This is a myth that has been perpetuated for decades. Zimbabwe grew tobacco and exported it to EU, USA and Asian and for that it was labeled the bread and basket of Africa. Ask African nations if they received and food from Zimbabwe and they have a totally different story from this.

    by: Jack Meoff
    April 10, 2012 11:31 AM
    Mugabe is a complete moron. I know that this will sound cruel to some of you, but I think that his imminent death will be a good thing for Zimbabwe.

    And, when it comes to Mugabe, my name says it all!
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.