UN: FAO warns on drought, hunger in southern Madagascar

New York, US (PANA) - The impact of severe El Nino-induced drought on crop production in southern Madagascar, where nearly 850,000 people are acutely food insecure, is likely to persist into 2017 and requires an intensified humanitarian response, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Thursday.

In a statement, made available to PANA in New York, FAO said the lack of sufficient rains in the southern region of Androy alone resulted in an 80 percent decline in maize production this year compared with the already reduced levels of 2015.

Prolonged drought also seriously affected the production of another staple food, cassava, in both Androy and another southern region, Atsimo-Andrefana, where cassava production dropped by approximately half.

"People living in these areas have been hit by successive droughts over the last few years and their hunger situation is expected to remain severely stressed into 2017," FAO said.

A new FAO/World Food Programme (WFP) report released on Thursday, which is based on data collected in July/August 2016, stated that parched conditions in the regions of Atsimo-Andrefana, Boeny, Melaky, Betsiboka and Ihorombe had a significant negative impact on rice production, with declines of between 25 and 60 percent.

The report said recently updated figures showed that some 1.4 million people were estimated to be food insecure in 2016/17 in Madagascar’s three southern regions of Androy, Anosy and Atsimo-Andrefana.

Of these, around nearly 850,000 were acutely food insecure, meaning they were not able to meet their food needs and required urgent humanitarian assistance, according to the most recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis for Madagascar.

The drought in Madagascar’s southern regions has reduced the country’s overall domestic production of maize and cassava, while national maize production for 2016 was estimated at 316,000 tonnes, down four per cent from the harvest in 2015 and 19 per cent below the average.

Cassava production, estimated at 2.6 million tonnes, dropped by 16 per cent against the recent five-year average.

"National rice production, however, benefited from good rains in the central, northern and western parts of the country – the main rice producing areas and is estimated at about 3.8 million tonnes in 2016, some 2.5 per cent above the previous year, but still some five per cent below the five-year average," the report said.

"It is essential that livelihood support begins immediately in order to take full advantage of the forthcoming planting season in November. FAO’s immediate agricultural response is targeting 850,000 people or 170,000 small-scale farming households, in the worst-affected districts."

According to the UN agency, the assistance combined provision of quick-maturing and drought-tolerant seeds and root crops, such as cassava and sweet potatoes.

"Farmers will also receive tools to replace those that may have been sold during the current extended hunger season. Support to livestock production will also be provided through supplementary feeding of livestock and animal health related activities," the report noted.

To date out of the US$22 million needed for FAO’s relief interventions, only US$3.8 million has been secured. Funding is urgently needed to ensure farmers do not miss the coming planting season.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR 27Oct2016

27 october 2016 17:23:05

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