Burkinabè farmers receive better seeds as part of UN effort to bolster food security

25 June 2010

The United Nations has begun providing quality seeds to 100,000 vulnerable farmers in Burkina Faso, one of several nations in the Sahel region suffering from a growing food crisis that is putting millions at risk of hunger.

The distribution is part of an operation run by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with funding from the European Union, aimed at boosting food production and improving food security for more than 860,000 rural households – about six million people.

More than 10 million people are at risk of hunger in parts of the Sahel due to drought and poor harvest, according to FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).

On a visit to the region in April, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes drew attention to the plight of the millions of hungry, the need for resources to provide life-saving assistance, and the importance of tackling the root causes of the recurring food crisis in the area.

“The current food crisis, five years after the last emergency, shows that without joint action between development and humanitarian actors in support of responsible governments to deal with the structural issues, it will become increasingly difficult to contain these recurrent crises, which do so much to undermine economic and social progress in the Sahel,” he said.

In Burkina Faso, poor rains led to an estimated 17 per cent decline in cereal production in 2009.

“This drought exacerbates an already difficult food security situation caused by persisting high food prices,” said FAO’s Emergency Coordinator in Burkina Faso, Jean-Pierre Renson.

The agency is also supporting some 900 seed producers in irrigated areas in southern Burkina Faso to help them increase their revenues while contributing to improving food security in the rest of the country.

“Areas with high production levels can compensate for areas which don’t produce as much, which lack seeds, and which face food insecurity,” said Mr. Renson.

The operation in Burkina Faso falls under the auspices of the EU Food Facility – Europe’s €1 billion response to the global food crisis, spurred on by soaring food prices in 2007 and 2008.


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