- After successive droughts and delayed rains, some 2.3 million people in Eritrea will need more than quarter of a million tons in food aid this year to supplement the inadequate harvest they have produced, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said today. This represents two-thirds of the whole population of Eritrea.
Cereal production late last year was forecast to be about 85 tons, less than half of the average of the last 12 years, another 80 tons was to be purchased and 80 tons donated, leaving the need at 262,000 tons, FAO said in its new report on the crop and food situation in Eritrea.
Successive years of drought and inadequate rains already had seriously undermined crop and livestock production in Eritrea. This year, in addition, there had been a failure of the Azmera rains - which occur annually from March to May and during which farmers prepare the land. Additionally, the Kremti rains - which occur between June and September - had been unusually short.
The combined failure of these two rains had produced a drought throughout the country. Not only had the cereal production been reduced, but the drought had also forced pastoralists to move their herds early and would result in shortages of animal feed early this year.
In 2005, an estimated 2.3 million people, about two-thirds of Eritrea's whole population will require food assistance to varying levels, FAO concludes on this background. This would even include most Eritreans living in urban and peri-urban areas.
- Timely support to crop and livestock production is urgently needed to revive production capacity in 2005, the FAO report concluded. "Short cycle and early maturing cereal seed varieties need to also be made available in case the apparent pattern of late rains in the last several years materialises."
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