HARARE, ZIMBABWE Aug 10 2010 13:35
Nearly 1,7-million Zimbabweans will require food assistance in the 2010/11 season despite the recent recovery of the country's troubled agriculture sector, United Nations agencies said in a report on Tuesday.
Agriculture plumbed new depths in 2008 when farmers produced 500 000 tonnes of the staple maize against national requirements of two million tonnes, but production has since picked up in the past two years to 1,35-million tonnes.
International aid targeting provisions of free seed and fertilisers for farmers in the once famine-threatened country, better use of land, and the end of hyperinflation have led to the improvement in harvests.
"Despite the improved availability of food, up to 1,68-million people will need food assistance because prices remain comparatively high for families with low incomes and little or no access to US dollars or South African rand," co-author Jan Delbaere of the UN World Food Programme said in the report.
Zimbabwe discarded the use of its worthless dollar last year after inflation reached 500-billion percent, but few US dollars or rands circulate in rural areas.
The UN report said general poverty and food insecurity had contributed to increased prevalence of chronic malnutrition in young children.
Once a regional bread basket, Zimbabwe has failed to feed itself since 2000 following President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned commercial farms for black resettlement, leading to sharp falls in production. -- Reuters
Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-08-10-un-17million-zimbabweans-need-food-aid