Addis Ababa - WFP urges donors to give cash to enable humanitarian agencies to purchase food locally to assist millions of drought-affected people in Ethiopia.
ADDIS ABABA - The United Nations World Food Programme today urged donors to give cash to enable humanitarian agencies to purchase food locally to assist millions of drought-affected people in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia's recent harvest, in late 2003, is 40 percent up on the previous year, and almost 11 percent above the five year average. Though the country remains a net importer of cereals, there are localised surpluses in some of the regions that can be bought for food aid.
Some 300,000 to 350,000 tonnes of maize, wheat and sorghum are available for local purchase in 18 surplus producing zones, according to a survey conducted by WFP, the European Commission and the Swedish International Development Agency. These zones normally account for more than 70 percent of Ethiopia's cereal production.
"If WFP and NGOs buy local cereal surpluses it will most certainly benefit local farmers," said Georgia Shaver, WFP Country Director in Ethiopia. "Our proposal makes economic sense. Donors could save money if they support the purchase of food aid in the local market."
The Ethiopian Government is appealing for around 900,000 tonnes of food for seven million people in 2004. Up to one third of this requirement could be covered through buying food in country. Buying 300,000 tonnes of cereals in Ethiopia would cost donors US$100 million.
Advocating for the local purchase of cereals is in line with other WFP projects that aim to stimulate the local market. Such purchases of cereals and pulses will also play an important role in helping to stabilise prices.
Last year, 13 million Ethiopians needed food assistance. This year, despite the good harvest, seven million people remain unable to feed themselves for the entire year and require food aid to cover their food gap. These people cannot afford to buy food even if the surplus reaches markets in drought-affected areas.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. In 2003 WFP fed 104 million people in 81 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign -- As the largest provider of nutritious meals to poor school children, WFP has launched a global campaign aimed at ensuring the world's 300 million undernourished children are educated.
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