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Food Crisis Deepens With Disclosure of Dwindling Grain Stocks

The revelation by a senior Zimbabwean government official that the country has just a three-week supply of grain in its coffers suggests the country could be in for yet another period of critical shortages - or something even worse.

The news comes just as the country’s farmers are grappling with severe shortages of seed and other inputs with the planting season at hand.

Experts say Zimbabwe must import about 1.2 million metric tons of grain. Agriculture Ministry Permanent Secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa told an audience in Nyanga, northeast of Harare, that supplies are running out fast. Web news source ZimOnline quoted him as saying that “if for some reason imports stop we are finished.”

For perspective on this developing situation, reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to independent agricultural economist Roger Mpande.

Opposition spokesman for agriculture Renson Gasela accused Harare of withholding information on food stocks because it did not want to discredit its land redistribution program, which critics point to as the source of shortages and economic decline.

Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri asked Mr. Gasela whether he thought the latest disclosure meant Harare will now be willing to officially request food assistance from the World Food Program – something the government has balked at previously.

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