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Shortages Of Seed, Fertilizer, Fuel Bode Ill For Zimbabwe Maize Crop

With the planting season for Zimbabwe's critical 2008-09 maize crop coming up fast, farmers are reporting a repeat of last year’s problems with key inputs such as seed, fertilizer and diesel fuel hard to find or prohibitively expensive.

Though the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe made US$13 million available to Zimbabwean fertilizer manufacturers hoping for an output of 30,000 tonnes, only 12,000 tonnes have materialized. Experts say the country needs at least 50,000 tonnes this crop season.

Currently a bag of fertilizer is selling for about US$20 on the parallel market, beyond the reach of many farmers. Agricultural sources said tobacco farmers have been less affected because firms that eventually purchase leaf have provided necessary inputs.

Mashonaland East farmer Stanley Murefu told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that in addition to chronic shortages of seed and fertilizer, farmers this year have not benefited from state-subsidized diesel fuel.

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