World Food Programme mobilises more food for Zimbabwe

HARARE -- The World Food Programme (WFP) at the weekend said it is stepping up distribution of food to millions of Zimbabweans following an agreement with the Harare authorities late last year.
WFP country representative, Kevin Farrel, said his organization was planning to distribute about 300 000 tonnes of food to starving Zimbabweans between now and the next harvest in April.

"We have been reasonably successful so far. We need to continue to mobilise more food," said Farrell.

The WFP said more than 1.9 million people in 32 districts in Zimbabwe had so far received about 20 000 tonnes of food between November and December.

Zimbabwe, once a net food exporter, is battling severe food shortages after President Robert Mugabe disrupted the key agriculture sector through his often violent seizures of commercial farmland from whites for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

The farm disturbances slashed food production by 60 percent resulting in Zimbabweans depending on food handouts from international donors. Mugabe denies his land policies are to blame for the food shortages blaming the crisis on drought.

Mugabe has also denied that there were food shortages in the country insisting Zimbabwe had harvested enough to feed itself. But last year Mugabe reluctantly agreed to allow the WFP to resume food distribution around the country.

The WFP said at least three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country's 12 million population, were in need of immediate food aid between now and the next harvest in April or they would starve.