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Vol 45 No 14

Published 9th July 2004


Fears of famine

President Mugabe has laughed off forecasts of another food crisis; now the UN presents the evidence

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation analysts predict chronic food shortages in a damning new report on Zimbabwe obtained by Africa Confidential. It says 'an estimated 30-40 per cent of farmers may run out of food from their own production' by the end of this month and that poor farmers' 'coping mechanisms will be stretched to breaking point'. The FAO report forecasts a maize harvest of just 708,00 tonnes ­ that's less than a third of the 2.4 million-tonne 'bumper harvest' confidently predicted by President Robert Mugabe and his officials a month ago (AC Vol 45 Nos 10 & 11). Some 15,000 tonnes of imported maize have arrived in Zimbabwe in the last six weeks. The government, according to the UN report, will have to import at least another 325,000 tonnes of cereals ­ although Mugabe insists that Zimbabwe doesn't need food aid. Even with secret tobacco-for-maize deals with American companies such as Sentry Financial and Dimon Incorporated, the government will be hard-pressed to finance that level of imports.

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