The UN Food and Agriculture Organization is taking emergency
measures to help African countries become food secure. Many of them are facing
high prices and food shortages.
Mauritania, for example, the FAO says millet prices are 50 percent higher than
a year ago, while the price of sorghum has doubled and the cost of maize has
risen 60 percent. It says Mauritania does not even produce enough food to meet
30 percent of its needs.
part of its emergency measures, the FAO, in cooperation with the government, is
distributing 500 tons of seeds. Luca Fornasari is the agency's emergency
coordinator for Mauritania. From the capital, Nouakchott, he spoke to VOA
English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
program is to provide assistance to…vulnerable farmers in Mauritania.
Mauritania is very much exposed to the effects of soaring food prices on the
international market. And we are going to provide an emergency assistance in
order to allow them to cope with this situation. And the immediate plan is to
increase national production, providing inputs, especially in this case. This
kind of emergency assistance that we're talking about (is) seeds of traditional
crops. This is to allow them to rebuild their stocks that were damaged by
drought and other climatic problems during the past year. And also the
objective of the government is to increase the production…expanding the area
cultivated. Our program is complimentary to the government program," he says.
seeds are being distributed in the regional capitals at the beginning of the
rainy season. "We are working in six regions of the country, the most important
agricultural regions. The action of the government is taking place at other
sites in order to be complimentary," he says.
for sorghum, millet, maize and cowpea are being taken to various parts of the
country by trucks.
FAO official adds, "Mauritania is a big country, but the area cultivated is a
very small amount. It's about 0.5 percent. This is mainly along the Senegal
River Valley, and the agricultural area during the past year has been affected
by several climatic stresses like drought…heavy floods…. Then the country is
exposed to other problems, like locusts."
government hopes to eventually double agricultural production. Fornasari says
it may be 2012 at least before Mauritania is food secure.