A new U.N. report projects that more than a third of Zimbabwe's population will need food assistance by early next year.

The joint report by the World Food Program (WFP) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says about 2.1 million Zimbabweans will face serious food shortages as early as next month. It predicts the number of people at risk will peak at 4.1 million in early 2008.

The report blames the shortages on a poor harvest coupled with Zimbabwe's worsening economic crisis.

FAO official Henry Josserand says that while drought devastated crops in many areas, overall food production was hampered by a lack of fertilizer, fuel and tractors, along with a crumbling irrigation system.

The report says the country will need 352,000 tons of cereal and 90,000 tons of other food assistance to meet basic food needs.

Zimbabwe's economy has gradually collapsed in recent months amid shortages of not only food but also fuel, electricity, and foreign currency. The country has the world's highest inflation rate at more than 3,700 percent, while an estimated 80 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed.