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Seed availability could be a problem, says SADC

Country Map - Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe
Recurrent drought conditions in southern Africa has seen millions go hungry
The outlook for seed availability for the 2003/04 growing season is mixed, warns the latest Southern African Development Community (SADC) Food Security Network Ministerial Brief. Zimbabwe, with about 5 million people said to require food aid, is still the country most affected by food shortages and a deficit of 40,000 mt of maize seed is anticipated. "Soybean seed should be adequate, and a surplus 1,000 mt of cotton is expected. However, a deficit of about 3,000 mt of open pollinated sorghum seed is expected. A further deficit of 120 mt of groundnut seed and 1,100 mt of millet seed is also foreseen," the report noted. The critical seed shortages were attributed to a combination of climatic factors, human and animal diseases, and the land reform programme which had resulted in role of the "formerly strong commercial sector in certified seed production" not being sustained. "Resettled farmers are yet to acquire experience in seed production. Some of them lack essential resources for seed production. A further drawback experienced this season concerns the security of seed crops. Most of the crops are in deficit due to thefts of seed from fields reported by seed growers and seed companies," the Seed Security Network noted. The brief adds that due to the magnitude of the deficit, seed would have to be imported from other sources in the region. However, the report notes that there are "difficulties in moving seeds between countries in the region. Current seed regulations in the SADC region are not friendly to regional seed trade and continue to act as barriers". The SADC Seed Security Network was working to harmonise seed regulations so as to foster intra-regional seed trade. "Elsewhere in the region, current information indicates a mixed pattern. Prospects for seed availability for the growing season 2003/04 are largely favourable for South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Seychelles and Mauritius, which have adequate seed. "Detailed information from South Africa is difficult to obtain. However, the general indication is that the country will have enough seed for both local and export demands. Botswana and Zambia will experience a slight reduction in seed and require to source seed from within the region," the report said. Information on seed prospects for Angola, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland was not yet available.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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