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Agricultural Experts See Disappointment In Zimbabwe's Wheat Harvest

Agricultural experts are predicting that Zimbabwe's winter wheat harvest, currently in progress, is likely to be disappointing due to electrical power cuts that have crippled or limited irrigation, fuel shortages and destructive crop raiding by quelea birds.

The state-run Herald newspaper said Tuesday that irrigation systems and other farm machinery are unable to operate effectively amidst constant interruptions of electricity across the country. Quelea birds have caused serious crop failure in some areas.

The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee has forecast an increase of 13% in the winter wheat harvest over last year's production level - but even then that will cover only 34% of Zimbabwe's annual national requirement for the grain. Further assessments will be made in October and in the February hunger period.

But independent experts question whether this year's harvest will be bigger.

Agronomist Roger Mpande told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that problems are too widespread to expect an upside harvest suprise.

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