UPDATE 1-Zimbabwe says needs maize urgently after dry spell

Wed Feb 3, 2010 9:19am GMT

* Imports needed to avert food shortages

* Extended dry spell hits crop output

(Adds details, background)

HARARE, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe needs to urgently import 500,000 tonnes of maize to avert shortages after the staple crop was hit by an extended dry spell, its agriculture minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Joseph Made told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the Finance Ministry should, for now, import 500,000 tonnes of grain, a quantity which in the past formed the country's strategic grain reserve.

"What is critical is that the Ministry of Finance should already start work on the basis of the national grain reserves, which are known to be 500,000 tonnes," Made said.

"The Ministry of Finance cannot wait any longer. It should start working now."

Zimbabwe has not had grain reserves for more than a decade.   Continued...

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