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Press Release 98/45  FAO/WFP

 


DESPITE LARGEST HARVEST SINCE OUTBREAK OF CIVIL STRIFE, ONE MILLION AFGHANIS NEED EMERGENCY FOOD AID, UN AGENCIES REPORT

Rome, 13 July - Although Afghanistan's cereal harvest will be the largest in 20 years, more than one million victims of war and natural disaster will need international food aid, UN food agencies reported today.

Experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) estimated this year's cereal production at 3,854,000 tons, including 2,834,000 tons of wheat. This would be 5 percent higher than last year and the best since the country's last peacetime harvest in 1978.

Production profitted from adequate rainfall, improved security in the south and most of the east and agricultural rehabilitation. Mine clearing and high prices for last year's crops encouraged farmers to plant larger areas of wheat. This helped to compensate for a lack of fertilizers and damage caused by floods in some areas, an unusually cold and snowy winter, devastating earthquake and continuing conflict.

But the country will need to import 740,000 tonnes of wheat and milled rice to feed a growing population and meet emergency food aid needs, the FAO/WFP-report said. Afghanistan will be able to import 600,000 tonnes commercially, and the remaining 140,000 tonnes will have to come from food aid.

Supply routes blocked by conflict and harsh winter weather prevent surpluses in the north from reaching Badakhshan in the northeast region, Bamyan in the east central region and the heavily populated area around Kabul in the central region, forcing them to import food, mainly from Pakistan.

WFP reported an acute food shortage in the chronically food deficit region of the Hazarajat. It estimated that 167,000 people are at risk of starvation and said it will provide about 7,500 tonnes of food for the most needy.

In all, WFP plans to supply more than 105,000 tonnes of food aid to 1.1 million vulnerable people in Afghanistan. The aid will go to female-headed households with no source of income, orphans, displaced people, the sick and elderly, victims of natural disaster and people taking part in food-for-work rehabilitation projects.

For further information please contact:

Erwin Northoff
Media Officer, FAO/Rome
Tel. +39-06 5705-3105

Trevor Rowe
Spokesman, WFP/Rome
Tel. +39-06 6513-2602

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