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Zimbabwe Central Bank Issues Gloomy Food Report

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has broken ranks with the Harare government and warned the country to brace for drought and reduced harvests in the coming agricultural season, drawing the ire of some top cabinet officials.

This forecast in a recent central bank study has put Dr. Gono at odds with officials the likes of State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa – also in charge of food security - as Zimbabwe's ability to feed its people has become a charged political issue.

The central bank report on grain financing and pricing says shortages of funding and limited foreign exchange are likely to depress maize production this year to 750,000 metric tons, less than half the 1.8 million tons needed to meet Zimbabwe's needs.

Projected wheat production at 120,000 tonnes will also fall short of the 400,000 tonnes which the country needs, according to the Reserve Bank report.

Despite such forecasts, which roughly square with those from the international agencies monitoring Southern African food supplies, Harare has steadfastly refused to formally request food assistance from the United Nations World Food Program.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Johannesburg-based analyst Obri Mashique for perspective on this divergence of official views.

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