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August 07, 2008

Maize seed shortage imperils upcoming planting season in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe could continue grappling with a severe grain shortage as the government has only secured 60 percent of the country's seed maize requirements for use in this year's agricultural season.

Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo made the startling revelations when he addressed farmers at the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) annual congress held in Harare on August 1.

With less than two months before the start of the 2008-09 agricultural season which gets underway in October Gumbo disclosed that the government has only secured 30 000 tonnes of maize seed out of a required 50 000 tonnes.

Gumbo said the government had committed foreign currency to import the bulk of the 30 000 tonnes of maize seed. He said only 11 300 tonnes of maize seed was sourced locally, while 18 700 tonnes was imported from neighbouring countries. He said the government would move with haste to import the remaining 20 000 tonnes of maize seed before the start of the planting season.

Zimbabwe's seed companies have in recent years been failing to produce enough maize seed  after most of their seed-producing farms were seized by supporters of President Mugabe's ZANU PF party under a government backed land seizure exercise.

In the 2007-08 farming season Zimbabwe only harvested 850 000 tonnes of maize out of an annual domestic consumption of 2 million tonnes resulting in severe food shortages across the country.

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