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Seeds Surer Way To Curb Hunger In Darfur

With Seeds Surer Way To Curb Hunger In Darfur Than Food Aid, Un Calls For Funds

New York, Jul 20 2005

Faced with a shortfall in funding for Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today appealed for $8 million to provide 100,000 more families with seeds and agricultural tools as a much more cost-effective means than emergency food aid in combating hunger.

“For one tenth of what is spent on food aid for a month, enough seeds can be purchased to help the same number of people produce their own food for several months,” FAO Emergency Coordinator for North Darfur Sara McHattie said.

FAO has already provided seeds and agricultural tools to some 70,000 vulnerable rural families in North Darfur, but has so far received only $7 million of the $15 million it has sought for 2005.

Some 550 tons of field crop seeds, including millet, sorghum and groundnut, and around 79,000 tools, including hand tools and donkey ploughs, were distributed outside displacement camps to households affected by the conflict as well as to host communities to encourage people to stay on the land. The assistance will help these families produce enough food to feed themselves for almost three months.

At least 180,000 people have been killed and some 2 million others displaced over the past two years in fighting between rebels, the Sudanese Government and its allied militias.

Most of the population of North Darfur is dependant on locally produced grain for food. Last year's harvest met only 15 per cent of the region's food needs, thus increasing the caseload for the already protracted food aid distributions.

“This is the third agriculture season missed by farmers,” FAO Agriculture Field Officer in North Darfur Bashir Abdel Rahman said. “Seeds were looted, lost during the escape to displaced persons camps, eaten or simply damaged due to improper storage. The harvest for the last two years was poor because of displacement, insecurity and erratic and below average rainfall.”

Receipt of the remaining funding would allow FAO and its implementing partners to assist an additional 100,000 families with agricultural and livestock supplies in the three Darfur states, FAO added.

ENDS

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