U.S. Water News Online
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe is facing its worst
agricultural season since independence in 1980, farmers and other
Critical shortages of seed, fertilizer and other agricultural
inputs are threatening next year's harvest before it has even been
planted, according to evidence presented to Parliament's agriculture
committee, the state-run Herald newspaper and ruling party-allied
Daily Mirror reported.
Fertilizer companies told the committee their warehouses are
empty. The Zimbabwe Seed Traders Association reported there is only
26,000 metric tons (28,660 U.S. tons) of maize seed in the country,
just over half what is needed, the AP informs.
The Agricultural Dealers and Manufacturers' Association has run
out of plow disks for the first time in its history. There are also
key shortages of irrigation piping, pumps, pesticides and other
chemicals, suppliers said.
"The information you have given us simply shows that there is no
season," committee chairman Walter Mzembi was quoted as saying by the
The seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for
redistribution to black Zimbabweans, combined with years of drought,
have crippled Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy. Some 4 million
people will need food aid before the next harvest in what was once a
regional breadbasket, according to U.N. estimates.
"This coming season's production prospects are the worst since
1980 independence due to inputs shortages and the lack of a strong
message to allow all farmers to produce with confidence," Doug
Taylor-Freeme, president of the mostly white Commercial Farmers
Union, told The Associated Press.
President Robert Mugabe's government claims to have settled
300,000 black families on former white-owned farms, but U.N. agencies
report many are derelict, with irrigation and housing vandalized, and
livestock stolen or slaughtered.
Mugabe has promised 7 trillion Zimbabwean dollars (US$287 million)
in assistance to black farmers. But Edward Raradza, vice president of
the black Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, said 60 percent of the funds
advanced by government for cropping had not reached their intended
beneficiaries. His organization represents 800,000 families in
communal farming areas.
"There have been too many middlemen," testified Wilfanos
Mashingaidze, chairman of the Tobacco Growers' Trust. "The resources
from government are going down the drain. They are disappearing like
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