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More Than 10 Million Face Food Shortages in Africa

More Than 10 Million People Face Food Shortages in Southern Africa

New York, Jul 7 2005 2:00PM

Calling for pledges of $266 million or nearly half a million tons of food immediately to stave off a humanitarian crisis, United Nations agencies today said more than 10 million people are facing food shortages in six Southern African countries this year after erratic weather and late planting reduced their agricultural production.

Making the appeal, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) met in Johannesburg, South Africa, to consider these findings reported by Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions (CFSAMs).

Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe have not been able to grow enough food to meet their domestic needs and serious food shortages would persist from now until the next harvest in May 2006, the agencies said.

The CFSAMs calculated that the six countries would need to import about 2.8 million tons of food, while Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) reports estimated that the international community would need to provide about 730,000 tons of food aid for the people most at risk.

The food shortages have been caused by many factors, but primarily erratic weather and inputs that were late or too expensive, such as seeds and fertilizer, the agencies noted. Chronic poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic have also been significant contributors to the problems of agricultural output, they said.

The 13 SADC Member States produced a cereal surplus of 2.1 million tons compared with 1.1 million tons a year ago. Most of the excess was produced by South Africa, which harvested a surplus of about 5.5 million tons this year, the agencies said.

ENDS

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