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Zimbabwe Needs 700,000 Tonnes of Maize Imports to Avert Food Crisis

Some crops wilted at the height of Zimbabwe's 2014-2015 agricultural season due to moisture stress. (Photo: Butholezwe Kgosi Nyathi)

Zimbabwe has released its final crop assessment report showing that the country has a grain deficit and needs to import 700,000 tonnes of maize to avert food shortages.

The country requires about 1, 4 million tonnes a year for consumption. The report shows that production went down by 49 percent. Drought-prone Masvingo province is the hardest hit area, though Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central have a surplus.

Cabinet has also tasked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to chair the special committee on food security.

Director of Christian Care, Stanlus Chatikobo, told VOA Studio 7 that his relief and development agency is noting desperation in some communities it is assisting.

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Meeting the shortfall might be problematic as traditional supplier, South Africa, has indicated that it might cut exports due to its own food inadequacies.

Grain South Africa chief executive, Jannie de Villiers, told the South African media that the country was faced with a maize deficit and exports to some other countries including Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique will be sacrificed to meet its internal demand.

Zimbabwe is likely to turn to its northern neighbor, Zambia, for imports. Zambian Agriculture Minister, Given Lubinda, said the country will sell as much as one million metric tonnes of its white corn surplus.

The Zambian government has set aside about almost one-third of its record 3.2 million-tonnes of its 2014 crop to sell locally and to neighbors. Ironically, Zambia is now able to export grain grown by ex-Zimbabwean farmers whose land was compulsorily acquired by the government.