UN food agency distributes Canadiandonated seeds to needy Ethiopian families

Some 70,000 families in two drought-stricken Ethiopian provinces are receiving food crop seeds that can be planted late in the delayed rainy season in the hope that they will not need emergency food aid, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said today.“Thanks to generous funding from Canada, some 350,500 drought-affected people in the regions of Amhara and Tigray are being given seeds of late-planting pulses, such as chickpeas, lentils and vetch,” FAO said in a release. “Late-planting carrot, cabbage, tomato, onion, beetroot and spinach seeds are also being distributed to selected farmers, women and youth groups.”Prolonged drought and poor and delayed rains had led to the widespread loss of high-yielding maize and sorghum, the FAO Emergency Coordination Unit in Ethiopia said.The distribution of food crop seeds would help to improve household nutrition and give the families both a food safety net and a source of income, thereby reducing their dependency on emergency food aid, FAO said.Ethiopia already has 13.2 million people needing urgent food aid, “due mainly to structural causes, poverty and recurrent natural disasters,” it said.In return for the agricultural help, the Ethiopian Government requires families to do work that will benefit their communities, such as repairing water management projects, FAO said. Occasional but intense floods have destroyed some of the canals, small dams and diversion weirs set up as part of such projects in both provinces.The repairs, however, were becoming too complex for local farmers and they would have to be trained, it said.“There is an important educational component to this project,” FAO said, “Farmers will be trained in modern crop production techniques, seed selection and water management procedures. By assisting today’s food-insecure households, we may be producing the self-sufficient, self-reliant households of tomorrow.” read more