Zimbabwe to launch programme to boost maize production

Zimbabwe has started rolling out a $500m programme to boost maize production to meet domestic food demand.

The three-year plan was aimed at raising plantings and expanding irrigation to increase production of the dietary staple to 2-million tonnes a year, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa told reporters on Monday.

The country harvested 742,000 tonnes of maize in the 2014-15 season, less than the 1.8-million tonnes needed by the Zimbabwean population.

Zimbabwe is suffering food shortages as rural parts of the country have been hit by the worst drought in at least two decades. Southern African countries need $2.7bn to cope with the effects of the dryness that has left 23-million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said.

In June, the UN’s World Food Programme stopped giving some people money to buy food in Zimbabwe because of the nation’s lack of dollars. The initiative is aimed at helping 300,000 people affected by drought.