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UN Releases Guide on Africa Crops

A melon field is pictured at a farm in the village of Djilakh, 80km south of Dakar, Senegal (2008 file photo)

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has released a detailed crop-planting guide covering 43 countries in Africa.

The FAO says the Web-based "crop calendar" provides tips on when and where to plant more than 130 crops, including beans, beetroot, wheat and watermelon.

The calendar covers 283 agro-ecological zones across the continent. The FAO says it is meant to help donors, agencies, government workers and private sector personnel working with African farmers.

The agency says the guide is especially useful in emergency cases such as drought or floods, or for recovery efforts following a natural or man-made disaster.

The calendar can also serve as a quick reference tool to adapt to changing weather patterns brought on by climate change.

In its annual report released last month, the FAO said 22 countries, including 17 in Africa, are suffering from extremely high rates of hunger. The agency said the proportion of undernourished people in sub-Saharan African is 30 percent, the highest percentage of any region in the world.