Zimbabwe is expected to reap 450 000 tons of maize during the next harvest in May, against 1.5 million tons this year. The government estimates that the country needs 1.8 million tons to feed its people.
“Due to low yield level due to poor land and crop management… the expected output for this year is 450 000 metric tons, which is a quarter of the national requirement,” said Michael Jenrich, an FAO operations officer.
The announcement came one day after the government’s secretary for agriculture Ngoni Masoka told reporters that he expected cereal production to increase this year.
The World Bank on Wednesday announced that aid agencies would nearly triple its funding for Zimbabwe’s farms to $74m, aid that will be channelled through non-government organisations.
Jenrich said small farmers lacked enough fertiliser, seeds and other inputs, but urged authorities to improve their management of the nation’s land rather than to rely on handouts to farmers.
The country’s power-sharing government said the increased funding would help boost yields, but farmers’ unions report that large tracts of land are lying fallow as farmers lacked the means to plant.
Chronic food shortage
The country has faced chronic national food shortages for years, as a result of drought and President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reform programmes.
In 2000, Mugabe embarked on land reforms that saw Zimbabwe fall from a food exporter to a regular recipient of food aid, after some 4 000 mostly white farmers were forcibly removed from their properties.
But the new farmers often lacked experience and government support, while the reforms were tinged with political violence.
Agriculture was once the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy, but now accounts for only about 20% of the gross domestic product.Post published in: Opinions