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World Food Program and Harare to Revisit Zimbabwe Grain Supply Outlook

World Food Program officials have called a meeting with authorities in Harare to take a closer look at the outlook for food supplies amid forecasts that shortages of maize and wheat are unlikely to be significantly relieved by the upcoming harvest.

The WFP had previously said it intended to scale back food distribution in the country as recent heavy rains prompted expectations of a good harvest, but its spokesman for Southern Africa, Mike Huggins, said plans could change based on findings.

The Food Security Early Warning System of the Southern African Development Community warns that Zimbabwe could experience a maize supply shortfall of more than 1.3 million tonnes in the current market season. Wheat is scarce too: the head of the Zimbabwe Millers Association said reserves could run out in a few weeks.

The Commercial Farmers Union says the winter wheat harvest shortly to begin will be disappointing, forecasting a total yield this year of just 95,000 tonnes compared with the 450,000 tonnes the country needs to reap to meet its annual requirements.

For a broader perspective on conditions in regional grain markets, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Billy Botma, chairman of Grain South Africa, an umbrella organization for South African agricultural producers.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...