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F.A.O. seeks to end continuing food crisis in Somalia

Friday, October 19, 2012

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)  and Somalia newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have vowed to work together to prioritize reviving Somalia’s agricultural glory waned by 20 years of war as the new leadership

FAO said in a statement issued in Nairobi on Wednesday, that Mohamud, who became Somalia’s first democratically elected president in 20 years, said agriculture forms a key tenet of his development strategy.

“Somalia’s agricultural performance is a crucial part of my government’s recovery plan, which seeks to help hardworking Somali communities to be able to increase local food production to end poverty for ever,” President Sheikh Mohamud while meeting Luca Alinovi, FAO’s representative to Somalia late on Tuesday as part of celebrations to mark World Food Day.

“Somali people are able to produce their own food and we have to make sure that that happens soonest,” said Mohamud

Somalia, once one of Africa’s leading exporters of banana and livestock has been torn by years of civil strife, forcing some of the most agriculturally productive communities into displacement and exile.

A year after 2011’s famine, the Horn of Africa nation is now on the path to recovery thanks to the timely interventions targeting herders and farmers in regions plagued by recurrent droughts.

FAO, the World Food Program (WFP) and the UNICEF have developed joint strategy aimed at enhancing synergies to increase resilience to droughts and other crises.

Today, banana exports have fizzled out, while livestock exports resumed in 2009 following a 9-year bad by Saudi Arabia, a key importer of Somali animals.

“These are very important inroads towards making Somalis more resilient and that is where FAO and its partners are concentrating their efforts by boosting farmers’ and herders’ ability to cope with recurrent droughts,” said Alinovi.

Famine was declared in Somalia from July and by November 2011 parts of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions had improved to pre-famine, emergency levels.

East Africa, including Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti has experienced a crippling drought over the past two years but that drought turned into famine only in Somalia mid last year.

Aid groups reduced access to some southern Somalia areas because of limitations placed on them by Al-Qaida allied group, Al- Shabaab militia blamed for landmine and grenade attacks on Kenyan soil.

FAO said it has also launched a fish-eating campaign targeting the majority of the Somali population culturally biased against fish.

The aid delivered by FAO to more than a million people was largely in the form of cash-based interventions that helped vulnerable communities to immediately buy food which, together with agriculture inputs and livestock health and production services, allowed people to remain in their places of origin.

Fertilizers and improved seeds were distributed while 22 million livestock were vaccinated or treated.

The agricultural assistance enabled farmers in the regions of Bay and Shabelle to double production of maize and sorghum last year, while livestock interventions have been seen to break a vicious cycle of epidemic outbreaks.

With 20 years of war and no functional government, Somalia’s farmers and herders bore the worst brunt of conflict and recurrent droughts.

A 2011 famine affected over 4 million people, or more than half of the population of Somalia, leading to tens of thousands of deaths.

The cumulative impact of two decades of conflict also worsened a situation of protracted and complex emergency, which has led to increased vulnerability to food insecurity.

In the midst of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, hunger and malnutrition are some of the major causes of suffering for significant sections of the population. Latest estimates show 2.12 million people face acute food security crisis especially in the south.

Alinovi said agricultural cooperatives, once better organized and strengthened, have shown to increase performance of smallholder farmers and that is a key objective in Somalia. 


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