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April 06, 2009

Zimbabwe's projected maize harvest revised downwards

Weather experts have revised downwards Zimbabwe’s projected maize output for the 2008/09 season, raising the spectre of another long year of biting hunger and begging bowls in what was once one of Africa’s bread-basket.

Remote sensing experts at Netherlands-based weather forecasting body EARS said Zimbabwe is one of a few southern African countries likely to record poor maize harvests this year due to uneven rainfall patterns. They said dry conditions experienced in parts of Zimbabwe such as Manicaland and Masvingo would severely constrain the country’s harvest for this year.

According to the weather forecasters, while yields were above average in Mashonaland and Matabeleland North, total output was expected to be drastically lower than the national five-year average.

“National average yield is expected to be lower (minus nine percent) than the historical average,” the experts said.An initial projection by EARS last month had put the decline in Zimbabwe’s maize output at minus three percent of the historical average while the 2008/09 yield was forecast to be four percent lower than the previous season’s harvest of 836 000 tonnes.

Agricultural experts, including those from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), have said lack of or the untimely availability of inputs was to blame for the continuous decline in Zimbabwe’s maize production.The United Nations and other humanitarian agencies have launched a massive international appeal for food aid to assist millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation this year.


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