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UN Food Agencies Due In Zimbabwe For Crop, Supply Assessments

Experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program were due in Zimbabwe next week to begin a crop and food survey at Harare’s invitation.

The government ejected an FAO delegation in 2004 in the middle of such a survey, charging that it was producing misleading data.

But Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo has declared 2007 a drought year and Harare has started importing maize from Malawi and plans to secure more from South Africa.

Experts say this year’s maize harvest is likely to produce less than 600,000 tonnes - one-quarter of the country's annual requirement of 2.4 million tonnes.

FAO Food Emergency Officer Kisan Gunjal, who will head the forthcoming mission, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the assessment would help officials determine where food assistance will be required.

Hunger is already reported to be widespread, especially in the south of the country where the drought has stunted crops and slashed yields.

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