JOHANNESBURG AUGUST 19, 2016 (CISA) – Farmers in drought – hit southern Africa urgently need help to plant the next harvest, or else the food crisis in the region will continue into 2017, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned on August 18.
“If there is good support from (local) governments and the international community … then we can break the cycle,” Francesco Del Re, senior strategic adviser for drought response at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said. “If this doesn’t happen you will have a continued crisis in 2017,” he told Reuters adding: “We have to help them (urgently) because the next planting season is a few weeks away.”
Southern Africa has been badly affected over the past year by the El Nino weather pattern which has wilted crops, slowing economic growth and driving food prices higher.
According to UN figures released earlier this week, about 579,000 children will need treatment for severe hunger this year, and 23 million people urgently need aid.
About 70 percent of the population in Southern Sudan depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. Many farmers have been forced to spend money on food rather than seeds and fertilisers, and to sell off their cattle.
The planting season begins in October, and the next harvest will be in February/March.The El Nino drought has destroyed some 9.3 million tons of cereal, and hundreds of thousands of livestock, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).