News / Africa

    Bringing Seeds of Life to CAR

    Men take cover in a toilet as heavy gunfire erupts in the Miskin district of Bangui, Central African Republic, Monday Feb. 3, 2014. In what a French soldier on the scene described as the heaviest exchange of fire he'd seen since early December 2013, Musli
    Men take cover in a toilet as heavy gunfire erupts in the Miskin district of Bangui, Central African Republic, Monday Feb. 3, 2014. In what a French soldier on the scene described as the heaviest exchange of fire he'd seen since early December 2013, Musli

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua
    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says the ongoing fighting and violence in Central African Republic are pushing the country toward a full-scale food crisis. Despite the insecurity, the FAO says it wants to ensure that crops are planted before the rainy season arrives. 


    The FAO says conflict is putting much of the country’s population at risk of not getting enough to eat.

    Dominique Burgeon, director of the agency’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, said, “We are extremely concerned with the overall humanitarian situation in CAR and especially the food security sector where up to 1.6-million people are currently food insecure out of a total population of 4.6-million, which is a huge share of the population that is food insecure.”

    The FAO describes the situation in the capital Bangui as “increasingly worrying,” but says it is “even more acute” elsewhere in the country.

    The problem began early last year as mostly Muslim Seleka rebels toppled President Francois Bozize. Communal violence erupted in December after Seleka leader Michel Djotodia became interim president and rebels began attacking civilians. Djotodia was pressured to step down, but the violence has continued under the new interim leader Catherine Samba-Panza.

    Now, however, militias, known as anti-balaka, have waged a campaign of revenge attacks. Human rights groups say the militias – who appear to be a mix of Christians and animists – are trying to drive all Muslims out of the country.

    Burgeon said that the violence has disrupted agriculture for about a year.

    “For the all of last year people were constantly displaced within the country – couldn’t crop their land. When they could cultivate their land it was sometimes looted, burned -- and they also lost all their agricultural assets and tools, the seeds. So this has meant that they had very little harvest last year.”

    There’s concern that the “hunger gap” in CAR will come early this year. It’s a time when food stocks are low prior to the next harvest.

    “In [a] normal year the hunger gap would start in July and last until September / October. This year the hunger gap is expected to start as early as February, early March, leaving them in a very difficult food security situation until the next harvest,” he said.

    The FAO’s initial plan is to support the country’s staple crops.

    Burgeon said, “One of the main crops for them is maize. So what we are currently trying to do is to support the next planting season for maize. And that is due to start in the south of the country in early March. And we believe this is absolutely critical to support the children. And then to go on a bit later on and support sorghum planting season. But it is super important that we support this planting season with the seeds, but also with the tools, in time for the farmers to prepare their land.”
    Burgeon added that if the FAO and its local partners fail to support CAR farmers now, the population will need “protracted food assistance.” That, he said, would be a “terrible situation.”

    An FAO assessment in December found that 78-percent of CAR farmers planned to either grow crops on their land or on land near the make-shift camps where they’ve sought shelter.  But that depends on their having seeds and tools.

    “For the people agriculture is the only option. Therefore, they plan to crop their land and that’s why we want to assist them as much as we can -- of course, not exposing them to undue risk. But it’s clear that when they want to do it – if they have the opportunity to do it – we want to be there,” he said.

    The Food and Agriculture Organization is in the process of rebuilding CAR’s seed stocks. It’s collecting seeds from neighboring countries, as well as Nigeria.

    All this, of course, carries a price tag. Burgeon said the overall cost will be $39-million, $10-million of which is needed now.

    “If we wait for too long, the rainy season will start. Transport will be extremely difficult and therefore it will complicate our operation. Therefore, while we are going for road transportation now, we may have to use air assets in the coming weeks.”

    The FAO estimates 75-percent of the population relies on small-scale agriculture for food and income.

    Another U.N. agency – the World Food Program – has begun airlifting emergency supplies into Central African Republic. The first flight carried nearly 2,000 metric tons of food – enough for 150,000 people for one month. In all, the WFP plans 25 flights over the next four weeks.

    The WFP resorted to airlifts because insecurity along the road from Cameroon to Bangui made truck drivers hesitant to make the trip to Bangui. The few trucks that have arrived in recent weeks had an armed escort.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora