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UN food agency warns of unfavourable crop prospects in sub-Saharan Africa

UN food agency warns of unfavourable crop prospects in sub-Saharan Africa

Warning of unfavourable crop prospects in most of sub-Saharan Africa, where 25 countries face food emergencies, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called for accelerated emergency food deliveries in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Mauritania to avert possible famine.

In a report issued in Rome, entitled “Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa”, the FAO puts total food aid requirement for 2003 at 4.6 million tons, against the 2 million tons it estimated in 2001-02, and it cites droughts and war among the reasons for the shortfall.

Calling overall harvest prospects in southern Africa "generally favourable" apart from Zimbabwe, parts of Swaziland and southern Mozambique, the report warns that prospects in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa remain unfavourable with 25 countries facing emergencies, the same number as in FAO’s last regional report in December 2002.

The agency says food supply in several countries, particularly Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Zimbabwe, remains grim due mainly to previous severe droughts, and calls for specific measures, such as feeding and watering points and easier access to markets, to provide relief to the livestock sector. The conflict in a number of countries, including Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo and Liberia, has aggravated food insecurity by disrupting agricultural activities, it says.

Widespread destruction, looting and population displacement in the Central African Republic suggests reduced food production. In the Republic of Congo, resurgent fighting around the capital, Brazzaville, has displaced at least 84,000 people and an Ebola outbreak in the Cuvette region has aggravated the humanitarian situation.

For countries hit by conflict and adverse weather, including Angola, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, DRC, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the report calls for assistance to provide seeds, hand-tools and fertilizer to help farmers resume production. In southern Africa, farmers need help in marketing any available surplus under favourable conditions, and in preparing for next cropping season.

The 25 countries facing emergencies are: Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.