HARARE (Reuters) - Britain has given Zimbabwe $72 million to help increase food production by rural farmers over the next four years, as the southern African country faces the prospect of poorer harvests this year due to inadequate rains.
Once the bread-basket of the region, Zimbabwe has since 2000 struggled to feed its people due to droughts and President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks, which badly affected commercial agriculture.
Catriona Laing, Britain's ambassador to Zimbabwe, said with 70 percent of Zimbabweans living in rural areas and mostly surviving on farming, supporting agriculture would speed up economic recovery.
The money would be paid out through the Food And Agriculture Organisation and other relief agencies.
Zimbabwe and Britain have had frosty ties since 2000, with London, the European Union and United States, accusing Mugabe of rigging elections and human rights abuses. Mugabe denies the charges, saying Britain is leading the West in trying to remove him from power as punishment for the land seizures.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia)