Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe should begin food aid scheme

Zim should begin food aid scheme: Report

by Own Correspondent Tuesday 09 March 2010

HARARE – Zimbabwe should start emergency food relief programmes to areas that have been affected by drought, while 500 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize should be set aside annually to mitigate any food deficits, a joint government and United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) crop assessment report states.

The joint report issued last week follows projections that up to 11 percent or 200 000 hectares of this year’s maize crop in the southern African country was a total write-off.

“At the time of assessment 54 percent of the maize crop was at reproductive stage,” the report states. “The crop condition was poor to fair in most parts of the country. A total of about 200 000ha of maize was a total write-off due to the dry spell.”

The most affected regions were Matabeleland South, Midlands, Masvingo, parts of Manicaland and Mashonaland Central. The maize crop is mostly in fair condition in the Mashonaland provinces, with some pockets of exceptionally good crops across the country.

The report recommended that “government should promptly set up the 500 000MT maize strategic grain reserve; the Grain Marketing Board should avail maize as a priority to districts likely to be affected by crop failure,” adding that “emergency food relief programmes to areas affected by crop failure” must be initiated.

According to the joint crop assessment, the maize area had this cropping season increased from 1.5 million hactares to 1.7 million hactares as a result of the availability of inputs.

Most parts of the country experienced a prolonged dry spell from mid December 2009 to the end of January 2010, the report said, adding that the most affected areas were parts of Matabeleland South, Midlands and

But towards the end of January 2010 the dry spell broke and heavy rains fell across most parts of the country.

According to the assessment, the northern provinces have received more cumulative rainfall compared to the southern areas. As of beginning of February, the country had received rainfall in the “normal” range, with
Masvingo, Matebeleland South and the southern parts of Manicaland in the “below-normal” category.

A total of 22 672 tonnes of maize seed was availed through various input programmes (government, NGOs and other input programmes), the report said.

“This was sufficient to cover 51 percent of the planted area to maize. The remaining 49 percent was planted using carry over seed, retained grain, purchases and other sources.

“About 63 000MT of basal fertilizer and 81 000MT top dressing fertilizers were availed through the different input support programmes compared to 19 147MT and 12 561MT availed last season respectively.”

The bulk of the maize crop (54 percent) was planted in November, 39 percent in December and 8 percent in January, representing a further shift in the timing of planting, as already experienced last year, the assessment report said.

Zimbabwe has grappled with severe food shortages over the past decade after President Robert Mugabe disrupted the key agriculture sector through his chaotic and often violent land reform programme.

The farm seizures reduced agricultural production by 60 percent resulting in most Zimbabweans depending on food handouts from international food relief agencies.

But Mugabe denies that his land reforms – that he says were necessary to ensure blacks also had access to arable land that they were denied by previous white-led governments – triggered the food shortages blaming the crisis on drought and economic sabotage by his Western enemies that he says crippled the economy’s capacity to produce key inputs such as seed and fertilizers. – ZimOnline  


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