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Maize Meal, Zimbabwean Staple Food, Hard To Find And Expensive

Extreme shortages of the Zimbabwean staple food of maize meal in stores are driving consumers into the black or parallel market where a 5 kilogram bag of the commodity costs Z$10 million (US$1.50), compared with an approved price of Z$145,000.

Officials at the Grain Marketing Board said the state grain monopoly has imported enough maize to meet national needs, but cannot transport it to GMB depots around the country. They accused some millers of diverting grain to the black market.

Spokesman Richard Lee of the World Food Program's Southern African office in Johannesburg said his agency is providing food aid to some 2.8 million Zimbabweans and will try to reach the same number next month before scaling down operations.

The agency estimates that some 4.1 million Zimbabweans need food aid.

Affirmative Action Group National Vice President Sam Ncube told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the agency should review the official price of maize, which he said has contributed to the shortages.

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