21 December 2012

Zimbabwe: 'Zim Headed for Food Crisis' Government

COMMERCIAL Farmers Union's president Charles Taffs has castigated government for failing to come up with clear-cut funding for agriculture, saying the nation was headed for another food crisis as the new farming season has begun with nothing to show farmers are ready.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Taffs said this season the state of preparedness of farmers is the worst at a time the country is likely to receive good rains.

"The state of preparedness of the farmers is the worst in the history of Zimbabwe because government has failed to put in place mechanisms to ensure farmers get funding," Taffs said.

Over the last decade Zimbabwe has been unable to produce enough cereals to meet national requirements. The country has been relying on grain imported by government, aid agencies and the private sector to cover the deficit. Recently the World Food Programme said about two million people will require food aid in 2013.

However, the production shortfall was mainly attributed to the combined effects of adverse weather, high costs and limited availability of agricultural inputs on the formal market.

Taffs said this season government, which has always blamed drought, will have no excuse for food shortages in the country.

"It has always been like this every season for the past 12 years and now there is hope of enough rains, we will see what the government will say led to the food crisis," he said.

"The government is failing to deal with fundamental issues of funding because of lack of proper land tenure. The farmers cannot access funding because their land is dead capital," he said.

In 2012, Zimbabwe had to import up to 300 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia to feed millions of its citizens who were facing starvation.

However, the bulk of the imported maize supplied to the hungry Zimbabweans came from former white commercial farmers evicted during the 2000 chaotic land invasions, and now farming in Zambia.

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