- Trucks loaded with more than 500 tons of seed left the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott today for six regional capitals, marking the beginning of emergency measures under an initiative by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), introduced to deal with the global food crisis.
About 20 trucks full of sorghum, millet, maize and cowpea seeds, are on their way to the country's south and south east through the FAO's so-called "Initiative on Soaring Food Prices".
Distribution in other regions was to be managed by the Mauritanian government, according to the UN. Most of the crops need to be planted immediately to coincide with the rainy season, which normally arrives in June.
"Due to dry spells and then floods last year, what farmers would have produced was largely wiped out in the flood-affected areas," Luca Fornasari, the FAO emergency coordinator in Mauritania, said. "In addition, imported food is skyrocketing and farmers had to sell their seed stocks to be able to buy food, or had to use them as food. Seed delivery will help farmers get back on their feet now," he added.
In December, the price of millet on Mauritanian markets was 50 percent higher than a year before, sorghum had doubled, and maize was up 60 percent. Prices have continued to increase steadily since then. Imported wheat and rice have seen even sharper increases, pricing out large swathes of the country's poorest people.
The FAO says Mauritanians are reportedly coping by eating less or eating only one meal per day. Others are selling their livestock. Already high levels of malnutrition are on the rise.
Currently, Mauritania does not produce enough food to meet 30 percent of its food needs, even in a best-case scenario, although the Nouakchott government aims to double agricultural output to cover 60 percent of its food needs with the next harvests. Agriculture is still the source of income for over 70 percent of the country's poorest people.
The FAO Initiative is also active in Senegal, Burkina Faso and Haiti this season, and activities are soon to begin in Timor-Leste and Mozambique, the UN agency reports. FAO is currently providing the funding for the Initiative, drawing US$ 17 million from its own resources to kick-start activities in the countries most affected by the crisis while planting is still possible.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.