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With Zimbabwe Planting Season At Hand, Seed & Fertilizer Out of Reach

Many Zimbabwean farmers have written off the 2008-2009 crop season due to shortages of inputs such as seed and fertilizer which when available are prohibitively expensive.

Agricultural sources said outlets selling maize seed and fertilizer insist on payment in hard currency, shutting out farmers who only have Zimbabwe dollars, massively depreciated amid hyperinflation last measured at 231 million percent.

Ten kilograms of maize seed fetch some US$40, while a 50-kilo bag of fertilizer is going for US$60. The government recently announced it would allow individuals to import farm inputs. But farming organizations have urged that the most vulnerable groups of farmers be given assistance because they have no access to foreign exchange.

Agronomist Roger Mpande told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government is to blame because it has always been poorly prepared for the farm season, adding that the coming crop season is likely to be the worst ever.

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