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Ethiopia: UN Appeals For Up To $100m For Famine


Ethiopia: UN Appeals For Up To $100 Million To Buy Local Surplus To Feed Hungry

With 7 million drought-affected Ethiopians still in need of food aid this year despite better harvests, the United Nations emergency food agency today appealed to the international community for up to $100 million to buy local surpluses in parts of the east African country to make up for the shortfall in other regions.

Some 300,000 to 350,000 tons of maize, wheat and sorghum are available for local purchase in 18 surplus producing zones, according to a survey conducted by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the European Commission and the Swedish International Development Agency.

"If WFP and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) buy local cereal surpluses it will most certainly benefit local farmers," WFP Country Director Georgia Shaver said, pointing out that "donors could save money if they support the purchase of food aid in the local market."

The Ethiopian Government is appealing for around 900,000 tons of food in 2004 for 7 million people who cannot afford to buy it even if surpluses reach markets in drought-affected areas. Up to a third of this amount could be covered through buying food within the country at a cost to donors of $100 million, WFP said.

Ethiopia's recent harvest, in late 2003, is 40 per cent up on the previous year, and almost 11 per cent above the five-year average. Last year, 13 million Ethiopians needed food assistance.

Local purchase of cereals is in line with other WFP projects that aim to stimulate the community market. Such purchases of cereals and lentils will also play an important role in helping to stabilize prices.

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