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Made asks UNDP for assistance

Godfrey Marawanyika

GOVERNMENT is seeking assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to boost agricultural production.

s-serif”>Yesterday Agriculture minister Joseph Made met UNDP officials led by resident representative Augustino Zacharias to discuss, among other issues, funding gaps in agriculture this season.

Government has yet to tell the UN whether it will accept international assistance for victims of its controversial Operation Murambatsvina. The UN says the government has to clarify how the US$30 million that the world body has budgeted to assist victims of the clean-up campaign will be disbursed.

Although the UNDP was not available for comment, Made confirmed that they met with Zacharias.

“We met but our meeting did not include the US$30 million package,” Made said.

“We were discussing agricultural production, domestic livestock. in fact the meeting was reviewing the whole agricultural sector. In general as you know we are approaching the rainy season so preparations have to be made,” he said.

Last week, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture was told by producers of seeds, fertlisers and chemicals that preparations for the 2005-6 season were in jeopardy due to the shortage of foreign currency.

A day later, the President’s Office summoned the seed producers, farmers, agricultural dealers and manufacturers’ associations to explain the state of preparedness.

Seed houses say the nation requires 51 000 tonnes of hybrid seeds. Currently, the country only has 26 000 tonnes.

Made said after yesterday’s meeting nothing concrete was concluded.

“If something tangible comes out it would be next week as we will be meeting again,” he said. “We have always been getting assistance from the United Nations through its agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation.”

Over the past seven months, the government has maintained that it has enough food stocks but Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa last week admitted the country had food stocks to last only three weeks.

However, Made insisted that all was well since the country was importing 15 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa a week.

Spokesperson for the UN Humanitarian Assistance office Christine Knutson on Wednesday said negotiations with the government over the US$30 million appeal were still going on.

“The UN continues consultations with the government of Zimbabwe on an appeal.”

Boniface Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the UN, was two weeks ago quoted as saying the country did not need international food assistance.

“As far as the government is concerned, we do not consider there is a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe,” Chidyausiku said.

“These donors who want to give us food are the same people who are pushing for regime change in Zimbabwe,” he said.

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