Zimbabwe maize reserves at 17-year high 1 mln tonnes

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HARARE, (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s maize reserves have hit one million tonnes, the highest in more than 17 years, state media reported on Tuesday, after the southern African nation produced surplus maize.

Last year, Zimbabwe was hit by a devastating drought that left millions in need of food aid, but the government said above average rains and state-funded farming inputs like fertiliser and seed had lifted maize output to 2.1 million tonnes this year.

“For the strategic grain reserve we have surpassed the one million (tonnes) of maize,” Joseph Made, the Agriculture Minister told the government-controlled Herald newspaper.

Zimbabwe since 2001 has relied on maize imports and food aid to feed itself, a situation critics blame on President Robert Mugabe’s often violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms to resettle landless black citizens.

Mugabe on Sept. 8 said despite harsh criticism of the land seizure drive, the programme was paying off, with agriculture expected to contribute to economic recovery and the country set to regain its status as a regional breadbasket.