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Cablegate: Darfur - Usaid Agriculture Programs

VZCZCXRO2976
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1167/01 2071109
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261109Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8006
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001167

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND TSHORTLEY
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PBROWN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - USAID AGRICULTURE PROGRAMS


KHARTOUM 00001167 001.2 OF 002


1. Summary: Current USAID emergency agriculture interventions in
Darfur have successfully improved the livelihoods and food security
of small farming and agro-pastoralist households in many rural
areas. However, ongoing conflict and insecurity make sustained
agriculture and livestock interventions unfeasible. Barring a
dramatic improvement in the security environment, the need for
emergency agricultural inputs is not likely to decrease in the near
future. As a result, programs that increase access to water, seeds,
and farming tools, in addition to animal vaccination campaigns, are
recommended to support rural communities throughout Darfur. End
summary.

----------------
CURRENT PROGRAMS
----------------

2. From June 4 to 14, a USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster
Assistance (USAID/OFDA) Agriculture and Food Security Advisor
traveled to Nyala, El Geneina, and El Fasher to meet with current
partners, assess the status of ongoing agricultural interventions,
and provide strategic input regarding agriculture and livestock
interventions for Fiscal Years 2007 and 2008.

3. Current USAID agriculture programs in the region provide seeds
and tools to small farming and agro-pastoralist households through
direct distributions or through community seed fairs. Direct
distributions bring in seeds from outside an area to address a lack
of seed availability, whereas seed fairs boost access to locally
available seed by providing potential buyers with vouchers for the
seeds.

4. USAID-funded seed fairs have been particularly successful in
South Darfur this planting season, owing to the collaboration of
several organizations. Three USAID partners hired a technical
consultant with strong expertise in preparing and hosting seed
fairs. Together the relief agencies held seven seed fairs targeting
2,750 households across South Darfur. In addition to facilitating
access to seeds and tools for local farmers, by sourcing seeds
locally the fairs also inject income into rural economies and help
re-establish traditional market activities.

5. Direct seed distributions were delayed following the late arrival
of some seeds shipments by the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization. However, the seeds arrived in mid-June, in time for
planting before the start of the rainy season. Ministry of
Agriculture (MOA) officials agreed that seed availability is
unlikely to be a serious problem for most farmers this year. Based
on the strong availability of seeds this season, the most important
determinants of productivity are likely to be the distribution and
duration of rains, and security at time of harvest.

----------------------------
CHALLENGES AND ONGOING NEEDS
----------------------------

6. Identifying target beneficiaries for agriculture programs is
challenging, particularly since insecurity and limited access
restrict monitoring efforts in many of the rural areas receiving
assistance. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) rely on community
leaders and committees to identify program recipients, allowing
local political dynamics and corruption to negatively affect
targeting. Where possible, NGO staff are involved in targeting, but
without improved access this issue is likely to persist.

7. Animal vaccinations and corresponding reliable cold-chain storage
and transportation networks are needed, particularly in North
Darfur. Access to water remains a critical need in all regions.
MOA staff also noted the need for emergency interventions to take
into account environmental impacts of various approaches. For
example, most seeds provided through direct distributions are
intended for farming in sandy soil, which is less productive and
less environmentally sound than clay soil. MOA officials also noted
that population displacement and related shelter programs contribute
to deforestation and use local resources at a rapid rate. A
USAID/OFDA agriculture advisor notes that farmers do not currently
have the tools or knowledge to cultivate in clay soil.

8. Many villages across Darfur may be ready for more
development-oriented agriculture programs, but the ongoing conflict
and resulting insecurity preclude such programs. Providing inputs
beyond seeds and tools is a difficult venture for NGOs, who face

KHARTOUM 00001167 002.2 OF 002


targeted attacks and carjackings at an increasing rate. In
addition, more substantial programs may make villages more
vulnerable to attacks. Many NGOs are discussing establishing seed
banks, but these would likely be an even greater target than fields
at harvest time. Agricultural training programs are difficult to
provide with any regularity, with certain areas off-limits to NGO
staff and others dangerous to government MOA staff.

---------------
RECOMMENDATIONS
---------------

9. Security permitting, provision of agricultural inputs should
continue, as needs are likely to persist in many regions. A harvest
compromised by insecurity or lack of sufficient rain, or the arrival
of returnees without assets, would lead to continued need for seed
and tool inputs.

10. Interventions to address access to agriculture inputs, including
cash-for-work, and seed fair or voucher programs, may be more
suitable than interventions that address availability, such as
direct distributions. Despite security problems confronting NGO
staff and vehicles, many rural villages are fairly secure, with
farmers moving regularly to and from markets. Farmers stated a
preference to trade seeds locally in order to obtain the desired
varieties, indicating that access is more of an issue than
availability in many areas.

11. Collaboration should be encouraged among NGOs engaged in
agriculture programs, particularly given the potential for
interventions in this sector to harm the environment and lead to
conflict between various stakeholders. The level of agriculture and
livestock expertise and on-the-ground experience varies greatly
among NGOs in Darfur. The NGO consortium in South Darfur can serve
as a positive example for additional cooperation to benefit program
recipients.

12. Ongoing monitoring of the impacts of seed distributions on food
security in the region would be instrumental in planning for future
programming. It will be particularly important to follow up on the
seed varieties planted by farmers, availability of preferred
varieties in local markets, and harvest success related to both
rainfall and security.

13. Livestock projects should focus mainly on vaccinations, which
are a standard good practice in any emergency situation. At this
time, support for community animal health workers (CAHWs) is not
sustainable due to insecurity. While CAHWs may be trained and used
for vaccination campaigns, it would be more time- and cost-efficient
to delay these programs until the region achieves greater stability.

FERNANDEZ

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