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Dry and brown Southern Africa will need food aid


Thursday, 03 March 2016

Dry and brown Southern Africa will need food aid

Driving through the western maize belt in the North West bordering Botswana, vast stretches of normally lush and green fields lie dry and brown. Farmers are battling the worst drought on record, which has transformed parts of agricultural lands into what looks like desert, says Wandile Sihlobo, grains economist at Grains SA. So far five out of the country’s nine provinces have been declared drought disaster zones, as crops fail and livestock perish. And it is not just SA. The whole Southern African region has been hit by an intense drought since early last year that was brought on by El Niño weather phenomenon. With SA being an important regional grain exporter, international food and aid agencies are fearing that millions of people will require humanitarian aid this year."It’s pretty bad," says Abdolreza Abbassian, senior grains economist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. "SA is the main (grain) supplier to the whole region and now has to import to cover its own needs," Abbassian adds. The drought has devastated the nation’s grains output, with maize the key staple for many people in the region. Maize output in the 2015-16 crop season fell almost a third from 14.3-million tonnes to 9.9-million, according to Grain SA.

Source: BD Live