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November 20, 2008

Seed maize being smuggled out of hungry Zimbabwe

An agricultural watchdog organisation, Afri Compliance, on Thursday expressed concern over large quantities of maize seed being imported from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Joe Hanekom, managing director of Afri Compliance, said a recent routine investigation revealed that large quantities of maize seed were being imported from Zimbabwe to South Africa through the Beitbridge border post.

"In reality this maize seed was imported into South Africa at ridiculously low values of R2.70 ($1.35) per kilogram and this makes one wonder about the legitimacy of these transactions."

Afri Compliance said the possibility that the imports could be maize seed from a neighbouring country such as Zambia, being transported in through Zimbabwe, was eliminated because it was determined that the country of origin was Zimbabwe.

Hanekom said the situation was reported to the South African authorities and the company would help the investigating team to solve the problem.

The imports were taking place in the midst of one of the most serious food shortages in decades in Zimbabwe.

As far as Hanekom said he knew there was also a moratorium on exports of maize seed from Zimbabwe.

"At the same time the minister of agriculture of Zimbabwe, Rugare Gumbo, recently said that the government was still battling to secure sufficient maize seed for the 2008 planting season," Hanekom said.


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