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Burkina Faso: UN agency helps poor farmers tackle food crisis

Burkina Faso: UN agency helps poor farmers tackle food crisis

Poor farmers in Burkina Faso who have been hit by soaring food prices and severe weather conditions have been boosted by supplies of crop seeds from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In all, FAO has supplied about 600 tons of seeds, including millet, sorghum, maize, cowpea and peanut seeds, as well as 432 tons of fertilizers, to 33,000 farmers in the country’s eastern and central zones in time for the current planting season.

“In the 15 provinces where FAO is distributing seed, under these circumstances less than 10 per cent of the food needed will be produced to feed people. We hope to boost that considerably now,” Jean-Pierre Renson, FAO Emergency Coordinator in Burkina Faso, said.

Food prices across the region have been increasing steadily over the past two years mirroring outside pressures from international markets. In the capital, Ouagadougou, rice was 87 per cent higher at the beginning of June compared with a year before.

FAO is working on a plan to assist farmers to reap profits by producing more rice, partly through developing water control methods for low-land rice farming around rivers and floodplains.

“In theory, Burkina Faso can be self-sufficient in producing enough traditional grains to cover its food needs, but severe weather has been ruinous for the past few years,” FAO economist Benoist Veillerette said.

In the country as a whole 23 per cent of children suffer from acute malnutrition. More than 80 per cent of the population makes a living on subsistence agriculture, and 45 per cent of people live below the poverty line.