European Union Supports Hungry Farmers In C.A.R.Through Seed Protection Programme
BANGUI – Farming households who struggle to feed their families in the war-ravaged Central African Republic (C.A.R.) are to receive vital support at a critical time, thanks to a contribution by the European Union of €1,575,000 to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
The funds, which are channelled through the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), will be used by WFP to provide food assistance - including rice, oil and peas - to hungry families so that they do not have to eat or sell their seeds and tubers. The situation is especially acute during the lean season, before the harvest comes in, when farmers may be forced to consume or sell their assets – and then are unable to plant for the next season.
“It is vital to safeguard the seed-stock of local farmers so that they will have a harvest next season,” explained Karima Hammadi, acting head of the ECHO office in Bangui. “With this short-term food assistance we safeguard the long-term survival of many rural communities and help strengthen the food security of the country.”
Since early 2013, when the conflict erupted in C.A.R, more than 460,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries and some 368,900 have been displaced inside the country. It is estimated that 1.27 million people currently require humanitarian food assistance in C.A.R., which was one of the world’s poorest countries even before the war.
Alongside its life-saving response, WFP is working closely with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and partners to support agricultural production. The seed protection programme, which focuses on rural impoverished families, aims to ensure their access to food during the “hunger” period (before the harvest in August and September) while protecting their seeds. Assistance is also provided to those people returning home to take up their livelihoods. Additionally, the programme aims to strengthen the resilience of food insecure households in areas affected by conflict as well as foster links between farmers and markets to promote the commercialization of smallholder agriculture.
WFP plans to reach more than 400,000 people during the farming season, which runs from April to September. So far, nearly 212,000 people have received assistance in 2015.
“The seed protection programme is important because it assists farmers throughout the period of agricultural activity, which coincides with the critical lean season. Thanks to ECHO’s contribution, we are able to continue this assistance and reach the people most in need,” said Bienvenu Djossa, WFP Country Director in C.A.R.
In 2015, WFP and its partners intend to assist 1.2 million people in the areas worst affected by conflict and ensuing hunger. However, with only 40 percent of its funding needs met, WFP urgently requires US$79 million to continue providing vital assistance to hungry families through to the end of the year.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.
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