Farmers must plant by October and failure to do so will result in another reduced harvest in March 2017
With a few weeks to go before preparation starts for the next cropping season, around 23 million people in southern Africa need support to produce enough food to feed themselves, the Food and Agriculture Organization said on Thursday.
A response plan aims to ensure that seeds, fertilizers, tools, and other inputs and services are provided to small-holder farmers, agro pastoralists and pastoralists to cope with the devastating impact of an El Niño-induced drought in the region.
At least $109 million in funding is required to provide support. Farmers must plant by October and failure to do so will result in another reduced harvest in March 2017.
Worst drought in 35 years
Two consecutive droughts, have hit vulnerable families in rural areas, as prices of maize and other staple foods have risen.
Almost 40 million people in the region are expected to face food insecurity by the peak of the coming lean season in early 2017. All countries in southern Africa are affected.
“The high level of unemployment and sluggish economies, mean 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 per cent of people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods,” David Phiri, FAO’s sub-regional coordinator for southern Africa, said.
Preparing for La Niña
The impact of El Niño continues to be felt, with the effects of the drought expected to peak during the lean season between January and March 2017, the FAO said.
Widespread crop failure has given rise to chronic malnutrition in the region. More than 640,000 drought-related livestock deaths have been reported in Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe due to lack of pasture and water and disease outbreaks.
El Niño’s counter-phenomenon, La Niña, is likely to occur later this year and while it could bring good rains that are positive for agriculture, measures must be taken to mitigate the risk of floods.
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