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Posted on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 15:12

El Nino: Farmers warned the worst is yet to come

By Mark Anderson

Cereal production by region (million tonnes)Shifts in the warm waters in the Pacific Ocean – known as El Niño – are increasing food insecurity and causing droughts and floods across Eastern and Southern Africa.

 

African grain output is forecast to plummet this year. A prolonged drought brought on by the El Niño weather phenomenon is wreaking havoc on maize, rice and wheat production across the continent, aid agencies, business analysts and governments warn. Poor crop yields in last year's harvest have put at least 52 million people in Eastern and Southern Africa in desperate need of food aid, according to the World Health Organisation.

Food security is predicted to worsen this year as grain harvests continue to slide. South Africa, a powerhouse of maize processing, has slashed its projected output by 25% for the coming year. Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, memories of the 1983 famine have resurfaced as foreign governments rush in with food assistance to help more than 10 million people who are thought to be facing desperate food shortages. 
Mark Anderson

Horn's worst food shortages

Aid agencies are sounding the alarm about the worst food shortages in the horn of africa for decades. As many as 22 million people could face food insecurity and malnutrition this year. Ethiopia's main cereal crop, known as the meher harvest, yielded 75% less than usual in some of the worst-affected areas of the country.

The ethiopian government and aid agencies estimate that $1.4bn is needed for the country to address the crisis. Flash flooding could make the situation much worse for up to 3.5 million people in ethiopia, somalia, south sudan, Kenya and Uganda

Southern Africa's bitter harvests

The droughT has forced south africa to forecast a 25% drop in its maize harvest this year. emergency food security conditions have been declared in five of the country's nine provinces and experts say that south africa might have to import 3.8m tonnes of maize to make up the shortfall.

The region's biggest maize producers are expecting big losses in this year's harvest. Officials in Namibia said production will drop by 44%. Zimbabwe announced in January that it would borrow $200m from afreximbank to import maize and declared a state of emergency in many drought-stricken areas. Meanwhile, maize prices soared by 66% between last year and this January, making the staple unaffordable for many.

More than five million people are expected to face food insecurity this year in central Mozambique, southern Malawi, southern Madagascar, south-eastern Zambia, Zimbabwe, swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho and south africa.•



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