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ZIMBABWE: Grain marketer dispels food security concerns

Published on 2 November, 2006, Last updated at 11:39 GMT


Zimbabwe's state-owned Grain Marketing Board (GMB) said this week that it had only collected 480,000 metric tonnes of maize, about 25 percent of the country's requirement.But GMB chief executive Samuel Muvhuti dispelled any concerns of food security arguing that the grain collected so far was a reflection of the surplus attained and not all the harvested maize.Next month heralds the critical lean season, when the farming season starts and lasts until March 2007.

During this period households traditionally have limited access to food stocks and lack the money to buy food even if it is available.Zimbabwe's annual cereal requirement is about 1.9 million mt. Independent estimates suggest only 800,000mt of maize was harvested this year, or less than half of the country's annual requirement; the government has insisted that around 1.8 million mt were produced.Muvhuti was confident that the increase in the producer price of maize, announced by government on Wednesday from Z$31,350 (about US$175) per mt to Z$52,450 (about US$209) would motivate farmers to deliver their grain to the GMB depots.

"We take delight in that we are about to reach our target of 500,000mt of the 2005/2006 harvest, and with the new producer price, we may even slightly surpass our target as farmers will surely be motivated to deliver their stocks...After all the next farming season is about to start and the grain that we have will definitely take us to the next harvest," insisted Muvhuti. But independent food security analysts noted that Muvhuti's revelations about the 2005/2006 grain produce appeared to be true, and expressed concern that

Zimbabwe would be unable to pull through to the next harvest.A recent USAID-funded report on informal trade in Southern Africa said Zimbabwe would have to import cereals. According to the South African Grain Information Service, Zimbabwe has imported nearly 100,000mt from South Africa since April this year.Faced with a fast crumbling economy, dubbed the worst perfomer outside a war zone by the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe has grappled with serious food shortages, since 2000 when government embarked on a fast-track land reform programme.

Humanitarian aid agencies estimate that 1.4 million people out of a population of about 12 million are in urgent need of food-aid.


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