Somalia's Harvest Worst in 5 Years
Sep. 04, 1998
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Somalia's worst harvest in five years threatens the lives of thousands over the coming months, the World Food Program said Friday.
Maize yields will be 60,600 tons this year, compared to 110,000 last year, WFP said in a statement. Sorghum production will be 22,000 tons compared to 108,000 tons in 1997. The combined production will mark the lowest annual yield in Somalia since 1993.
As a result, WFP will increase its food aid to Somalia to over 20,000 tons from August to March 1999, feeding about 630,000 people, WFP said. The U.N. agency urged international organizations and donors to help fill the gap.
El Nino-driven floods, crop infestations by rats and other pests and a lack of replacement seeds are to blame for the reduced production in the agriculturally rich Juba and Shabelle river areas, WFP said. In addition, renewed conflicts in the region are affecting production.
``The combination of these problems has completely destroyed the ability of thousands of Somalis, particularly the small farmers, to produce or access food for their families,'' said Burke Oberle, WFP representative in Somalia.
The majority of families who will receive food are in the southern part of the country, in the Juba, Shabelle, Bay, Bakool, Gedo and Hiran regions. Flooding blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon was most severe in these areas during October and December 1997. More than 2,000 people died and over 60,000 hectares of farmland was ruined, WFP said.