UN says 34 countries cannot supply food for their people
UNITED NATIONS – The Associated Press
REUTERS PhotoA new United Nations report says 34 countries, nearly 80 percent of them in Africa, do not have enough food for their people because of conflicts, drought and flooding.
The figure has grown from 33 last December, after the addition of Swaziland, which was placed under the countries with severe localized food insecurity.
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the first report out of a total of four to be released in 2016, released on March 9 said that drought associated with El Niño had “sharply reduced” 2016 crop production prospects in southern Africa.
While 27 of the 34 countries that were listed to be “countries requiring external assistance for food” were from Africa, the seven others – Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea, Myanmar and Nepal – were from Asia.
Persistent conflicts in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, Somalia, and the Central African Republic have taken a heavy toll on the agricultural sector, further worsening the humanitarian crisis in these countries, the report said.
“In most cases, the impact of conflict extends into neighboring countries such as Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo that are hosting refugee populations,” a part of the report read.
In areas of Central America and the Caribbean, the report said dry conditions linked to El Niño may affect the planting of crops for the main growing season for the third consecutive year.
The report said expectations for harvests in Morocco and Algeria have also been lowered due to dry conditions.
FAO’s first forecast for wheat production in 2016 is 723 million tons. That’s 10 million tons below the record output in 2015.
The report also warned that last year’s reduced production would negatively impact the food security situation in North Korea, where “most households were already estimated to have borderline or poor food consumption.”
Elsewhere, the outlook for the 2016 crops already in the ground, mostly winter grains in the northern hemisphere, is generally favorable. Early forecasts indicate large 2016 wheat crops in most countries of Asia.