The U.S.-based Famine Early Warning System will shortly release an alert saying the maize harvest that begins next month in Zimbabwe will leave the country 1.1 million tonnes short of the 1.8 million tonnes it needs to meet annual national needs.

An official at Fewsnet headquarters in Washington, declining to be named, confirmed the substance of the Fewsnet report leaked to the South African Press Association, saying Zimbabwe's upcoming harvest will reap only 700,000 tonnes of the staple.

Consequent to the findings, Fewsnet has grouped Zimbabwe with Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia as requiring ?high-priority urgent action.?

Independent Zimbabwean agronomist Nelson Marongwe told reporter Chinedu Offor of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Harare government of President Robert Mugabe should take the latest Fewsnet grain-production warning to heart.

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