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October 23, 2008

Zimbabwe makes it easier to import fertilizer

The Zimbabwe government has liberalised the procurement of agricultural inputs in a move that will see farmers being allowed to import maize seed and fertilizer on their own as individuals, a state-run newspaper said here on October 23.

A critical shortage of maize seed and fertiliser was hampering efforts to increase food production in the southern African country where nearly four million people are facing starvation after a succession of poor harvests since 2000.

Preparations for the 2008/09 season had stalled due to the absence of inputs on the open market, with the limited supplies of maize seed, pesticides and fertiliser only available to a few well-connected individuals.

The Herald daily said the Ministry of Agriculture had with immediate effect removed restrictions on imports of agricultural inputs.

“Anyone who wants to import inputs like fertiliser and maize seed can come to the ministry and we can discuss the modalities,” the Minister of Agriculture, Rugare Gumbo, told the newspaper.

Until the latest waiver, only registered seed companies and government departments were allowed to import inputs into Zimbabwe.

Under the new arrangement, those wishing to import agricultural inputs would have to obtain temporary licences from the Ministry of Agriculture.

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