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Having Scaled Down Food Aid to Zimbabwe, UN Agency Eyes 2009-2010 Season

Though the United Nations World Food Program has scaled down distributions of food aid to Zimbabweans with the arrival of the annual maize harvest, a spokesman for the agency said it anticipates mounting another large-scale feeding operation in the 1009-2010 season.

WFP Southern African Spokesman Richard Lee said a survey to assess food availability will be conducted in June, but added that the harvest now beginning has clearly been diminished by widespread shortages of agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilizer.

He told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the WFP meanwhile is continuing to provide rations to about 600,000 particularly vulnerable people, including those battling HIV/AIDS and households headed by minors.

At the peak of its humanitarian operations in March before seasonally scaling back, the WFP was providing food to around 5.2 million Zimbabweans. Not only the arrival of the harvest but dollarization and liberalize import regulations have increased general food availability - though many Zimbabweans lack the hard currency needed to purchase essential items.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...