The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for help for millions of Southern Africa farmers who have been left devastated by drought that had hit the country.
The organization called for urgent help for about 23 million farmers in SA ahead of the year’s planting season which is just few weeks away. It said 23 million Southern Africans urgently need support to produce enough food to feed themselves and thus avoid being dependent on humanitarian assistance until mid 2018.
The FAO subregional coordinator for Southern Africa David Phiri noted the need for farmers to be assisted with good seeds, planting equipment and fertilizer saying this should be done in time to avoid world food shortage.
He said failure to do so would result in a smaller harvest in March 2017, and leave millions of rural families dependent on humanitarian assistance until mid-2018.
“We must make the most of this small window of opportunity and make sure that farmers are ready to plant by October when the rains start,” David Phiri, FAO subregional coordinator for Southern Africa, said in a statement.
“The main way people are able to access food is through what they themselves produce. Assisting them to do this will provide lifesaving support in a region where at least 70 percent of people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.”
UN’s FAO has prepared response plan aimed at ensuring that small-holder farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists are given seeds, fertilizers, tools, and other inputs and services, including livestock support, in order to help them cope with the devastating impact of an El Niño-induced drought in the region.
At least $109 million in funding is required to provide this urgently needed support.
The world is faced with mass food shortage following poor and unfavorable weather conditions faced by farmers in most producing countries.
More than two third (60 million) farmers of east and southern Africa are reported to be facing food shortages because of droughts linked to El Nino, a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
If nothing is urgently done, it is expected that about 40 million people in the region will face food insecurity by the peak of the coming lean season in early 2017. All countries in Southern Africa are affected.
“The high levels of unemployment and sluggish economies, means that the main way people are able to access food is through what they themselves produce. Assisting them to do this will provide lifesaving support in a region where at least 70 percent of people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods,” said FAO’s David Phiri,
“We must make the most of this small window of opportunity and make sure that farmers are ready to plant by October when the rains start,” he added.
Ten countries including Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe which requested for specific assistance will benefit from the UN FAO’s response plan for the year.