Farmers in parts of northern Ethiopia are in dire need of support to sow their fields as the country battles food insecurity.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently reported that farmers in the area are in serious danger of losing the main planting season, which is June to August, if they do not receive urgent support.
This could further deteriorate the already worsening food crisis in the region, even as 8.1 million are said to be impacted by prolonged drought.
Ethiopia has faced multiple challenges in the last two years due to prolonged drought, floods, armed conflict, civil unrest, and desert locusts infestation which plunged many into severe hunger.
However, with favourable rainfall predicted for the coming months, the season offers a crucial and cost-effective opportunity to improve food availability across the region.
According to FAO, U.S.$96 million is need to provide agricultural support to the people of Ethiopia.
‘The importance of supporting food production in Tigray cannot be overstressed’, FAO Representative for Ethiopia, David Phiri, said.
‘It is highly unlikely that the region will be able to produce sufficient food for its population without the appropriate seeds and fertilisers’.
The FAO and its Agriculture Cluster partners are seeking to mobilise $96 million immediately, focusing specifically on the time-sensitive opportunity offered by the government of Ethiopia to purchase fertilisers at cost price.
‘Every dollar invested now in food production has a multiplying effect, and it turns into four to seven dollars worth of food. At the same time, bringing in food assistance at a later stage will be much more expensive’, Phiri added.
‘At the same time, FAO is advocating increasing financial, material and technical support to other areas affected by the conflict, such as Amhara and Afar. Access to these areas is considerably easier, but material support has not been adequate’.
If support is received in time, farmers will be able to harvest and start consuming staple foods by October 2022.
Without these inputs, the next harvests will not be available before October 2023, extending the hunger season for a further year, and increasing humanitarian food needs even more.
It is understood that there is a small window of opportunity to prevent severe hunger by supporting local production and averting a potential increase in humanitarian food needs over the next year.
Photo source: David Stanley