No fear of hunger yet in Zimbabwe

Harare (dpa) - The Zimbabwean government has bought 31,000 tonnes of maize to feed people in drought-stricken parts of the country, the official Herald newspaper reported Monday.
"No-one will die of hunger,'' Samuel Muvuti, the acting chief executive of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) told the paper.

"We have at least 14,000 tonnes coming through Maputo (in neighbouring Mozambique) to Chegutu and about 17,000 tonnes through Beira (in Mozambique) to Mutare for the eastern and northeastern parts,'' Muvuti said.

He added, "Intermittent feeding exercises were being carried out as the hunger situation was not yet critical.''

Zimbabwe is facing its fourth year of food shortages, which the government blames on crippling drought. But critics say a controversial land reform programme launched five years ago, which has seen most formerly white-owned farms transferred to new black farmers, is partially to blame.

Earlier this year, the government said it would have to import 1.2 million tonnes of maize to make up the shortfall in food production. Zimbabwe needs 1.8 million tonnes of maize to feed its population every year.

During a visit to Harare in early June, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) James Morris said that between three and four million Zimbabweans out of a total population of more than 11 million would need food aid in the coming months.

The food shortages would peak between December 2005 and March 2006, he warned. dpa rt pb


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