Zimbabwe govt: Food crisis 'not a disaster'

There have been warnings of food shortages in southern Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe faces a shortfall of 1.1 million tonnes of the national staple maize this year, the US-based food monitoring Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) said on Tuesday. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - The Zimbabwe government says it won't declare a state of disaster over a looming food crisis.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned that food shortages in parts of southern Zimbabwe are significant after months of poor rains.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made was responding to a question in Parliament.

An opposition MP asked him if Zimbabwe would declare a state of disaster over crop failures across vast areas of the country so that it could get help from international aid agencies.

But Made said that would be premature.

The minister said private millers were importing grain to supply the needs of urban dwellers, and President Robert Mugabe's government would look after communities in need in rural areas.

Analysts say Harare's cash-strapped government will have to spend over US$220 million importing 700,000 tonnes of maize between now and next year.