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Sunday, March 9, 2014

UN beckons on donors to assist in Zimbabwe food crisis

THE United Nations (UN) is approaching donors to raise about $60m to help alleviate a rapidly worsening food crisis in Zimbabwe, as this season’s woeful harvest leaves more than 2-million people in need of food assistance, reports

Zimbabwe, NaijaAgroNet recalls has been experiencing an extensive migration of farmers ditching the production of staple crops such as maize in favour of cash crops, such as tobacco, and this is quickly raising the import bill for food.

Sory Ouane, country director of the UN World Food Programme in Zimbabwe, disclosed that the UN has budgeted $86m for its food assistance programme to June this year in order to feed 1.8-million of those in need, but despite some "generous contributions" from donors, the fund had a $60m shortfall.

The Portfolio manager, Investec Asset Management, Roelof Horne, blamed the lack of clarity over property titles after the land grabs in the 2000s as holding back investment in agriculture in that country.

Zimbabwe was once known as the bread basket of Africa but has seen its economy shrink by half since 1980 as a result of indigenisation and the farm invasions.

However, tobacco is making a comeback again to levels near 200-million kilograms, last seen a decade ago.

"It’s a mess. I think Zimbabwe will be an agriculture power again, but there are complex issues to resolve first," said Mr Horne.

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