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Facing Acute Food Shortages, Harare Moves To Micromanage Farming


The Zimbabwean government says it is mobilizing all farmers across the country to deal with food shortages, ordering each to plant at least one hectare of maize, the Southern African nation's staple food now in desperately short supply.

But experts say the plan, reminiscent of Soviet centralized agriculture and expected to be launched this planting season, is deeply flawed and destined to fail.

Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that every farmer in Zimbabwe will be obliged to participate.

The campaign will be run by five cabinet ministers, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Agribank and the army, represented by Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba. Provincial governors, chiefs and village heads will enforce local compliance.

Zimbabwe needs around 2 million tonnes of maize a year to feed its population, but has consistently failed to meet this target since launching land reform in 2000.

With the planting season upon the country, essential agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilizer as well as fuel and electricity, are in short supply everywhere.

Agriculture secretary Renson Gasela of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Arthur Mutambara said the the yield of maize from the compulsory hectare will only feed the producers and their families.

Agriculture expert and agronomist Roger Mpande told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government plan is simply not viable.

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

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