Many Zimbabwean farmers face the risk of another poor maize season due to widespread shortages of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a key input.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told the state-controlled Herald newspaper in a report published Tuesday that the government was scaling up imports of fertilizer from Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. But experts said this move comes too late given the time it will take shipments to arrive.
Farmers able to access subsidized inputs through the Grain Marketing Board have been able to purchase it for seven U.S. dollars for a 50 kilogram bag - but private importers are demanding up to US$35 a sack.
Agriculture Secretary Vincent Gwaradzimba of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the shortages present a challenge to the government as well as to farmers.
In a related development in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West, 11 people including top ZANU-PF provincial officials have been questioned by local police in connection with alleged diversion of fertilizer delivered to the Chinhoyi Grain Marketing Board which later turned up on the black market.
VOA Studio 7 reporter Arthur Chigoriwa reported from Chinhoyi.