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15.01.2004 General News

7.2 million people still need food aid in Ethiopia - UN

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Accra, Jan. 15, GNA - Despite a good harvest, 7.2 million people in Etiopia still require assistance to meet minimum food requirements in 2004, according to a joint report released on Thursday by two United Nations agencies.

Last year, 13.2 million Ethiopians needed food assistance. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) Report: "Well-distributed seasonal rains that began on time and continued until late September/October in the main production areas resulted in an upsurge of grain production in the 2003 season."

Seed support programmes helped to ensure access to seeds in most regions and increased use of improved seed and fertilizer also contributed to "the marked improvement in yields over last year."

National cereal and pulse production in the meher season is forecast at 13.05 million tonnes, about 46 per cent above 2002/03 and 11 per cent above the last five year's average.

The Report made available to the GNA says the overall agricultural performance in 2003 was much better than last year, primarily due to favourable weather conditions. Incentives to invest were also greater following higher prices since November 2002.

Much better rainfall in the central highlands and in the North-Eastern pastoral areas and improved livestock condition reduced livestock mortality rates and removed the need for early migration of herds and flocks, the Report said.

Despite these overall improvements it is estimated that Ethiopia would still need 980,000 tonnes of food relief for 2004, compared with 1.8 million tonnes in 2003.

It is estimated that the total grain import requirements in 2004 would be 210,000 tonnes of which 50,000 tonnes are expected to be imported commercially while confirmed food-aid commitments stand at 160,000 tonnes.

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