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Zimbabwe Government Writes Off 11 Percent of This Year's Maize Crop

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told VOA that insufficient rain and hailstorms devastated portions of the maize crop and that the Finance Ministry had been asked to seek funding to import maize

A Zimbabwean government assessment of the 2010 maize crop has concluded that 11 percent of plantings must be written off due to a long dry spell this season, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said Wednesday.

The minister told VOA that a preliminary survey found that insufficient rain and hailstorms devastated crops in significant portions of the country.

The government prepared the report with the United Nations World Food Program and other partners. The survey covered some 200,000 hectares out of a total of 1.7 million hectares of maize planted. Made said the status of the rest of the maize crop will be determined in a second phase of the survey.

Made told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the government has initiated plans to meet shortfalls in the maize crop. He said the Finance Ministry has been asked to fund maize imports and farm assistance.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai disputed the official projection, however.

MDC Agriculture Secretary Vincent Gwaradzimba told VOA that 35 to 40 percent of the 2010 maize crop must be considered a total loss.

Agronomist Mandla Nkomo told VOA reporter Brenda Moyo that the government should ask international donors now for commitments on food aid.