UN food agency: hunger worsens in Zimbabwe

The United Nations food agency says hunger is worsening in Zimbabwe after erratic rains, shortages of seeds and fertilizer and "poor agricultural practices" in the troubled economy led to a reduction in fields planted with the main staple foods.

The World Food Program said cereal harvests in the current season were down by an estimated one third compared to last year. It said about 1.1 million rural people will need food aid up to December, rising to 1.6 million in the traditionally "lean months" to March.

The agency's latest bulletin Tuesday said $119 million is needed for upcoming food assistance but so far only $32 million has been pledged by financial institutions and donors for food imports. WFP said food shortfalls are becoming especially critical in arid southern Zimbabwe.