FAO provides urgent assistance to drought-stricken Cape Verde

Effort aims to build resilience, make agriculture less dependent on unpredictable rains

18 February 2015, Rome - FAO will provide food crop seeds, animal feed and drip irrigation equipment to help thousands of people in Cape Verde whose food security and livelihoods are at risk following a sharp fall in crop production due to drought.

An agreement for $500,000 for urgent assistance to the Republic of Cabo Verde has been signed by the country's Prime Minister, José Maria Pereira Neves, and FAO's Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, during a meeting in Rome.

"This is an extremely important agreement that will not only allow us to face the current drought, but also help to create conditions to build a sustainable agriculture in Cabo Verde," Pereira Neves said.

The emergency intervention aims to assist 8,237 rural households which are most vulnerable to the impact of drought - Cabo Verde experienced 65 percent less rain in 2014 compared to the previous year.

Estimates from a FAO assessment mission carried out last month indicated the output from maize crop at some 1,000 tonnes. This represents the lowest level of production ever recorded in the country, and one which follows a steep downward trend over the last few years.

Immediate intervention

Some 30,000 people need urgent assistance, with many of the most vulnerable households having lost all or a large part of their cereal crops in eight of the most affected islands in Cabo Verde.

As part of FAO's intervention, 7, 015 households will receive a 17 kilogram kit containing, maize, beans and cowpea seeds.

In addition, 554 households whose irrigation-based agricultural activities have been severely disrupted by the drought are to receive tomato, cabbage and onion seeds as part the emergency assistance effort.

Building on previous experience aimed at improving the use of Cabo Verde's scarce water resources, and with a view to strengthen resilience capacities, drip-irrigation kits will be distributed

Considering that the production of livestock fodder was also found to be very seriously affected by the low rain levels, putting thousands of animals at risk, emergency distribution of animal feed will also be provided to 668 livestock breeding households.

Cabo Verde is highly dependent on cereal imports, especially for rice and wheat, which are not grown in the country. Approximately 80 percent of the national cereal requirements are imported.

However, the sharp decline in production will have a negative impact on farmers' income and access to food.

In line with one of its strategic objectives, FAO is committed to building the resilience of agricultural systems and agriculture-dependent livelihoods to threats and crises. Making agriculture production less dependent on highly variable and unpredictable rainfalls is particularly crucial in an effort to build resilience in Cabo Verde.

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
Cape Verde Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves meets FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva