Zimbabwe Lacks Funds To Transport Food Aid Minister

Zimbabwe does not have the money to transport food aid to areas experiencing acute shortages, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said on March 21.

The country wants to send its entire 270,000 tonnes of grain reserves to provinces that are worst hit by drought and where 1.7 million people need aid, but the Grain Marketing Board had no money to do so he told the state-owned Heraldnewspaper.

“The directive was given by cabinet two weeks ago,” Made was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe’s drought has left six of its 10 provinces facing serious food shortages, theHeraldsaid.

The southern African country, once a regional breadbasket, has failed to feed itself since 2000, following President Robert Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned commercial farms to resettle landless blacks, leading to sharp falls in production.

Made told Reuters that the government is carrying out a crop assessment program but would not discuss the extent of the drought.

Combined estimates by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program said about 1.7 million people out of its population of 12 million would need food aid.

Zimbabwe suffered a prolonged dry spell between February and March leading to crop failure in several provinces, the government- controlledHeraldsaid.

China lent Zimbabwe $700 million on Monday. At the same time, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan emphasized on a visit to Harare that he hoped Chinese businesses would be protected from the mineral-rich southern African country plans to increase ownership by black Zimbabweans.

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