The Zimbabwean: story; media gag on crop updates

The Zimbabwean: story; media gag on crop updates.


BULAWAYO—AUTHORITIES in Zimbabwe have slapped a media gag on crop information amid growing fears that the devastating armyworm and momentous technical blundering are whittling the little cereal harvest the country could have had this season.

High ranking officials at Arex (Agricultural Reaserch and Extension Services) this week refused to give media updates on the country’s crop situation citing an embargo from higher offices.
One such official told the zimbabwean that he now needed special clearance from head office in Harare to release the updates to journalists. Previously, he gave such updates over the phone.
I now have to be cleared by head office to give you that update…maybe you can try me after next week, the official said.
Zimbabwe is grappling with a serious cereal deficit after repeated failed harvests due to drought and poor political and economic policies in the recent few farming seasons.
Zimbabwe requires at least 1.8 million tonnes of maize (its main staple) to feed its 12.5 million citizens. But last year, the GMB only received 712 000 tonnes of maize from farmers incurring a huge deficit of 88 000 tonnes from its initial target of 800 000 tonnes for the just ended season.
However, the 2007/8 season, touted as the mother of all agricultural seasons, was expected to improve the country’s maize output.
But the devastating armyworm is besieging the little maize harvest prospects as outbreak reports increase everyday. In addition, blundering by officials in the procurement of key farming inputs, seed and fertilisers had already decimated the amount of land the country could have put under maize this season. This season is the wettest for 127 years.

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