Govt begins crop assessment exercise

maize_good_crop(Pictured: Maize The staple food for the majority of Zimbabweans)
HARARE The government has begun a crop assessment exercise to gauge food requirements, amid reports that

the country might have to write off some of the maize crop after a prolonged dry period.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made last week said the food assessment exercise was being carried out in conjunction with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

“We have begun the crop assessment programme,” said Made, adding, In some areas, the crop is now a right off because there were no rains.”

The assessment due to be completed in about two weeks time will establish the potential food deficit and help the government and relief agencies determine how much food aid is required.

Made said his department informed the Ministry of Finance about four months ago to import maize to build a strategic reserve of 500 000 tonnes of the staple grain as a precaution but the advice had not been heeded.

He said: “In October last year, the permanent secretary (of agriculture) wrote to the permanent secretary of Ministry of Finance to make provisions for 500.000 metric tonnes of maize for strategic reserves but they never responded.

Biti was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

Although the country has recorded some rainfall over the past week, the rains have come too late with crops in several parts of the country said to be under severe stress and wilting.

Zimbabwe has faced food shortages for the past decade which critics chiefly blame on President Robert Mugabes chaotic and often bloody farm redistribution programme.

The land reforms, which Mugabe says were necessary to correct a colonial land ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished blacks to poor soils, saw white commercial farmers expelled and their farms parceled out to black villagers who lack financial resources and skills to maintain production.

Post published in: World News

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