UN: FAO. WFP provide seeds, tools, food to break hunger cycle in CAR

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) have begun providing seeds, hand tools and food to nearly 50,000 hungry farming families for this year's planting season in the most food-insecure areas of the Central African Republic (CAR).

An FAO statement made available to PANA in New York said the provision of the seedlings and farming implements coincides with the height of the lean season when household food stocks are typically lowest.

Under the "Seeds Protection" initiative, FAO provides crop and vegetable seeds, while WFP provides groundnuts, maize, rice, sorghum, and beans to the same families.

The statement quoted FAO country representative in CAR, Jean-Alexandre Scaglia, as stating: "Helping families rebuild food production is an important part of the recovery in this country, as it creates a source of food and income and can help bring stability to communities."

"That is why it is critical we make sure families do not cope with the current scarcity by eating their seeds meant for planting," he said.

On his part, Bienvenu Djossa, WFP Central African Republic Country Director, said: "We know that during this period, food is limited and families are already struggling."

"The food provided by WFP ensures that the seeds get planted and families don't go hungry at the same time," according to Djossa, who stressed that, "Our support now can help people escape the vicious cycle of hunger."

He also noted that three years of conflict have disrupted agriculture and severely constrained people's access to food as they have been struggling with the effects of multiple poor harvests, disrupted markets and soaring prices for many staple foods.

Mr. Djossa added: "As peace is returning to CAR, this initiative is a beam of hope for thousands of families."

The statement also disclosed that another 50,000 families will be supported during the second planting season in August and September, meaning that 100,000 families in total (500,000 people) will be supported under the initiative this year.

It said the distribution of seeds and food was made possible by funds from Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union (EU) and ECHO, the Fonds Bekou, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund,
the Common Humanitarian Fund for the Central African Republic, UN-Women, and the World Bank.

It said: "With 75 percent of the population depending on agriculture, FAO, WFP and their partners have been working together since the beginning of the unrest to mitigate negative impacts on agricultural production and food security; the seeds protection initiative was first
implemented in 2014."

The statement also said that the CAR government is leading a strategic effort to revive the agricultural sector, while FAO and WFP are supporting the government through longer-term programmes that aim to save and strengthen livelihoods and build resilience.

However, the two UN agencies warned that with only half of both agencies' funding needs secured, people in CAR face receiving only half of the support they need.

FAO is appealing for US$86 million to support 1.55 million people with inputs to produce crops and keep their livestock healthy, and strengthen the government's efforts to boost food security.

It, however said that there is a serious funding gap, to date only 8 per cent of these requirements have been met.

On its part, the WFP requires US$83 million to respond to the urgent needs of 1.4 million people until the end of September in CAR. and in neighbouring countries hosting CAR refugees.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 25May2016

25 may 2016 15:36:00

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