WB, FAO to assist Zimbabwe in agricultural production

HARARE, Nov 06, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- The World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will join partners to provide assistance to Zimbabwe to ensure this southern African country can produce food and avert shortages, local media reported on Thursday.

In a statement, Zimbabwe's High Level Resource Mobilization and Utilization Committee said the two cooperating partners would join the Zimbabwean government in assisting the country procure maize seed, fertilizers and fuel.

The committee said the South African government was availing 3 million Rands to finance procurement of about 3,500 tons of maize seed, 2,350 tons of small grains seed, and a combined 5,000 tons of fertilizer, fuel, chemicals and animal vaccines.

It said the World Bank would finance procurement of 4,000 tons maize seed worth 10 million U.S. dollars while FAO would provide crop inputs and animal vaccines valued at 11.4 million U.S. dollars. "The timely interventions by the Republic of South Africa, the World Bank, FAO and other cooperating partners complement government efforts to restore productivity in agriculture and ensure food security," it said.

As part of moves to improve input availability for the 2008/ 2009 season, the Zimbabwe government has put in place measures allowing able farmers to import their own inputs due to prevailing shortages on the local market.

Seed totalling 8,800 tons, 9,500 tons of fertilizer and close to 10 million litres of fuel have already been acquired and are expected in the country by the end of November or early December.

Inputs had already been distributed to farmers in high yielding regions of the country, the committee said, adding a further 120,000 packs of 10 kg seed maize would be distributed to vulnerable groups.

The government is targeting at least 500,000 hectares under its "champion farmer" initiative and 200,000 hectares for vulnerable groups.