4 November 2003,
Addis Ababa/Rome -- Over 70 000
drought-affected families in the Ethiopian provinces of Amhara
and Tigray are receiving late-planting crop seeds in a bid to
help the region's farming sector recover, FAO said on
Thanks to generous funding from
Canada, some 350 500 drought-affected people in the regions of
Amhara and Tigray are being given seeds of late-planting pulses
such as chickpeas, lentils and vetch.
Late-planting carrot, cabbage, tomato, onion, beetroot
and spinach seeds are also being distributed to selected
farmers, women and youth groups.
"Prolonged drought and poor and delayed rains
have led to the widespread loss of high-yielding crops such as
maize and sorghum,'' the FAO Emergency Coordination
Unit in Ethiopia said.
''Vulnerable households have been unable to
either save seeds from previous harvests or to buy new seeds to
plant, and are extremely food insecure," FAO said.
"Reasonable harvests and the
long-term improvement in the food security situation cannot be
expected if households do not have seeds to plant."
Chickpeas, lentils, pulses
against food insecurity
distribution of food crop seeds will help improve the
nutritional status of households and help families generate
extra food which can be used as a safety net and a source of
income thus reducing their dependency on emergency food aid, FAO
An estimated 13.2 million people in
Ethiopia are in need of emergency assistance, according to the
UN agency, due mainly to structural causes, poverty and
recurrent natural disasters.
the end of the main rainy season, late-planting crops and
varieties are sown in time for harvesting during Ethiopia's
most important cropping season, the Meher, at the end of
December and the beginning of January.
crops grow using residual soil moisture
total of 1 555 tonnes of pulse seeds have been bought and are
being distributed by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of
Agriculture, Non Governmental Organizations and various seed
survey and beneficiary selection committees in the country.
FAO said some 17 500 hectares of land will
be cultivated as a result of the seed distribution and are
expected to yield some 14 500 tonnes of grain pulses in the
Amhara and Tigray provinces.
Over 2 500
hectares of land will be covered with vegetable crops as a
result of the 6795 kgs of vegetable seeds distributed under the
same Canadian-funded project.
Watering the harvest
In line with the Government of Ethiopia's policy,
in return for the agricultural inputs and relief assistance such
as seeds, households will carry out various community-based
activities on employment generation schemes - regenerating water
management projects, for example.
Occasional but intense floods have destroyed some of
the canals, small dams and diversion weirs set up as a result of
water management projects in both provinces.
Rebuilding this kind of infrastructure is becoming
beyond the capacity of local farmers.
"There is an important educational component
to this project," FAO said, "Farmers will be
trained in modern crop production techniques, seed selection,
and water management procedures. By assisting today's
food-insecure households, we may be producing the
self-sufficient, self-reliant households of
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570