Biotech Updates

FAO, World Bank Give Helping Hand to Zimbabwean Farmers

September 18, 2009

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced that it will distribute seeds and fertilizers to farmers in Zimbabwe in a bid to boost the country's agriculture. According to a press release, FAO has procured 26,000 tons of seeds and fertilizers for distribution to 176,000 vulnerable farmers, or 10 to 15 percent of communal farmers in the country. These agricultural inputs, which will be distributed starting next month, will be sufficient for a farmer to plant a 0.5 hectare plot.

Jean-Claude Urvoy, FAO's Emergency Coordinator in Zimbabwe, said "With good seasonal rains, timely implementation and effective coordination, farmer's production in Zimbabwe could feasibly more than double this season, compared to the previous year's national average production level."

The World Bank and the Australian Agency for International Development will also provide some USD 7 million to help Zimbabwean farmers increase their harvest. The Zimbabwe Emergency Agricultural Input Project grant aims to reduce Zimbabwe's dependence on food aid and costly food imports.

World Bank senior agricultural economist David Rohrbach told Voice of America that the grant is covering the cost of 3,000 tons of a mixture of hybrid maize seed and open pollinated varieties which are targeted to 300,000 communal framers on the country. "These will be farmers generally that have difficulty producing enough grain to meet their consumption requirements in the previous year," Rohrbach said.

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