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
     Previous    
    by: Paddy O
    April 10, 2012 11:17 AM
    Good, let these racists rot. I certainly hope they aren't begging for money from "white" countries.
         

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora