With the planting season well advanced, the Zimbabwean government has announced that it is importing 15,000 tonnes of maize seed from Zambia - 476 tonnes of which have already entered the country - in an effort to close a significant shortfall.
The imported Zambian seed, which cost Harare some US$17 million, should cover the shortfall, as the national requirement for planting is about 50,000 tonnes and local production of seed maize this season amounted to some 35,000 tonnes.
Harare said it will also import 300,000 tonnes of sorghum seed from Botswana.
Much is riding on this agricultural season, with food shortages chronic in much of the country following last year's disappointing yields. The government has predicted that this crop year will be "the mother of all agricultural seasons," though skeptics note that fertilizer and fuel, inputs nearly as essential as seed, are scarce and expensive.
Johannesburg-based agricultural consultant Jonah Nkabinde told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that as farmers have already lost some time, they need to plant varieties of maize that will reach maturity faster.