FAS conducted satellite and ground surveys from 23 to 27 February, when crop growth was near the maximum leaf area index during mid-season, according to a report released by the department.

Factors working against a better harvest were dollarization, making inputs too costly for small-scale farmers, a drop of 85 percent in seed production capacity since 2000, and the poor quality of available seed, combined with shortages of all other inputs such as fertilizers, lime, pesticides and diesel.

Zimbabwe’s 2007/08 maize harvest of 580,000mt was the worst on record and led to humanitarian organizations providing emergency food assistance to about seven million people.

Zimbabwe’s national maize requirement is 1.8 million tons.

The maize yield estimate per hectare was estimated by the FAS at 0.44 tons, a slight increase on the yield from the previous year of 0.40 tons.

The joint World Food Programme/Food Agriculture Organization crop assessment for Zimbabwe is expected to be released in mid-June.