FAO Says Food Insecurity Likely To Escalate


In short
Global agricultural prospects are improving but lean seasons loom in near future. The report by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says the ongoing conflicts continue to intensify food insecurity.

Civil conflict and weather-related shocks have severely stressed food security in 2016, increasing the number of countries in need of food assistance, according to a FAO report.

The new edition of the Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, released today, highlights 39 countries that are in need of external assistance for food.

While the outlook for global cereal supplies is improving due to generally favorable growing conditions for crops, the legacy of recent droughts persists, as do the negative effects of a spate of conflicts.

Agricultural forecasts suggest robust grain harvests are on the horizon, but hunger will likely intensify in some regions during the lean seasons before the new crops have matured.

In Southern Africa, where El Niño effects sharply curtailed food production in 2016, the number of people requiring outside assistance from January through March 2017 is expected to significantly increase compared to the same period a year ago.

Child stunting rates are "significantly high" in the most troubled areas, notably Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique, the report notes.

In some regions, inadequate stocks of cereal and legume seeds due to two consecutive poor harvests may limit plantings.

Conflicts cast a long shadow on food security
To facilitate humanitarian response planning, the report identifies the primary causes of local food crises.

These range from exceptional shortfall in food production and widespread lack of access - due to low incomes, high prices or disrupted distribution networks - to the impact of conflicts on local food security conditions.

Civil conflicts and their consequences, including refugee movements that are burdening host countries such as Cameroon and Chad, are cited in 21 of the 39 countries.

Widespread conflict can lead to the loss and depletion of households' productive assets, as in Central African Republic, and to security concerns that hinder farming activities, as in South Sudan.
In parts of South Sudan, improved harvests are likely to have only a short-lived effect as ongoing conflict has reduced the ability to engage in agriculture, posing extra risks for the most vulnerable communities.

Agricultural trends appear poised to improve after rough 2016
Droughts and weather effects linked to El Niño triggered significant crop shortfalls in 2016 in several countries.

Africa's aggregate cereal production declined in 2016 despite some sub-regional gains, notably in West Africa and the Sahel region, which is on track for a record cereal production. Maize output in Southern Africa decreased sharply, severely stressing food security conditions.

Poor harvests triggered sharply higher prices for staple maize in Malawi, where 6.5 million people are expected to be food insecure during the upcoming lean period.
Sadly the report places Uganda among the 39 countries currently in need of external food assistance.

Apart from Uganda, other countries with in the region include, Burundi, Central African Republic,Congo,  Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan among others.