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Shortage Of Farm Workers Could Worsen Zimbabwe Food Situation

Some experts warn that food shortages could worsen in Zimbabwe this year as farm workers abandon the countryside seeking a better life, often in the illegal panning and mining of gold and diamonds to which thousands of rural dwellers have turned.

Farm workers earn Z$12,000 (US$3) a month and in many cases less, far short of the Z$350,000 a month the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says a family of six needs to buy food and other essentials. Wage negotiations between farmers and the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe deadlocked last week.

Elsewhere in the troubled agricultural sector, the government said Tuesday that it will let white farmers who have demonstrated “goodwill” stay on the land.

State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is in charge of land reform, told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that "Zimbabwe security forces have been directed to identify white farmers who have shown goodwill towards the government so that they can retain some land." Fewer than 600 white farmers remain on the land, compared with more than 4,000 when land reform started in 2000.

Agronomist Rodger Mpande told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government has realized that its land reform program has failed in terms of crop output, therefore it has decided to keep some white farmers.

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