Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe drought could translate into US$300 million grain purchase cost

Zimbabwe Drought Could Translate Into US$300 Million Grain Purchase Cost

With the government keeping international and non-governmental partners at 
arm’s length over their alleged politicization of food, sources say ordinary 
Zimbabweans may end up suffering as Harare is ill-prepared

Sandra Nyaira | Washington  21 March 2011

Agricultural and food experts have been voicing concern for some time about 
the impact of a recent drought on Zimbabwe’s soon-to-begin maize harvest, 
but new information suggests the food-security impact could be much greater 
than previously thought.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said Monday that the provinces of 
Manicaland, metropolitan Bulawayo were being added to those of Matabeleland 
South, Matabeleland North, Midlands and Masvingo as facing critical food 

Observers said Harare could need up to US$300 million to meet food 
requirements if it turns to the international marketplace to meet national 
food requirements, particularly in light of steep increases in grain prices 
over the past year.

With elements of Zimbabwe’s national unity government keeping traditional 
international and non-governmental partners at arm’s length over their 
alleged politicization of food, sources said ordinary Zimbabweans may end up 
suffering as Harare is ill-prepared.

The government has said that things look worse on the ground than its recent 
crop and food assessment suggested. The Cabinet has instructed the 
state-controlled Grain Marketing Board to start sending grain to the 
affected areas.

But experts said the GMB has not held significant reserves for some time and 
will not be able to meet food needs. The agency says it will be selling a 
50-kilogram grain bag for US$16 in some areas – out of reach for many 
cash-poor rural and urban dwellers.

Dadirayi Chikwengo, chairwoman of the National Association of 
Non-Governmental Organizations, told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that the 
food situation is dire.

Chikwengo said the Zimbabwean government must work with traditional partners 
to conduct a new assessment and allow such partners to help feed the 

Economist John Robertson says Zimbabwe could have avoided food security 
problems if most of the farms seized under land reform had been put under 
crops this year.

“We’ve had poor weather in parts of the country but if crops had been grown 
in the first place, we would have reasonable crops today,” said Robertson.

“But very little of the land is planted and we see very little activity on 
the land that was taken through the land reform process,” he said.


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