New York: A $10 million loan from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will enable the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to scale up purchase of fertilizer to support farmers in Ethiopia’s troubled northern Tigray region, the agency said on Monday.
Since conflict erupted in November 2020, Tigray and other regions have experienced widespread disruption of agriculture, high levels of acute food insecurity and loss of livelihoods.
The loan is part of the resource partners’ commitments to FAO, and the supply of fertilizer will help farmers plant their fields during the critical planting season. However, this support must be delivered and applied by the end of the month.
David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Acting Representative for Ethiopia, thanked partners and CERF for recognizing the need to act quickly.
“If farmers receive the inputs they need, they will be able to harvest and start consuming these products from October 2022. These harvests would cover their food needs for at least six months, and in the best case, until the next harvest. for a significant proportion of households, with a surplus to sell,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rein Paulsen, director of FAO’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience, highlighted the wider implications.
“There is a small window of opportunity to prevent severe hunger by providing essential agricultural inputs and enabling farmers to produce enough food for the population, thus averting a potential increase in humanitarian needs,” he said. he adds.
feed the nation
Up to 80% of Ethiopians depend on agriculture as their main source of income, especially those living in rural areas, and their produce feeds the nation.
The main growing season is known as Meher, and it is the most important season for agricultural production in Tigray.
FAO said that with good rainfall, coupled with a favorable outlook, the season offers a crucial and profitable opportunity to improve food production and availability in the region.
The UN agency and its partners have so far purchased just over 19,000 tons of fertilizer, or 40% of the needs. Enough to meet the needs of some 380,000 households, and a first batch of 7,000 tons has already been distributed to farmers.
To respond to needs
The additional 12,000 tons were purchased through the CERF loan, along with a similar allocation from FAO. The loans are secured by funding from a bilateral donor, with more details to follow once an agreement is finalized.
The 19,000 tonnes of fertilizer was purchased through the Ethiopian government, and authorities have indicated that more fertilizer could be made available if FAO and its partners mobilize additional funds.
The FAO said the aim is to supply Tigray’s total requirement of 60,000 tonnes, funds permitting.
The agency has already benefited from CERF loans in 2017 to prevent the risk of famine in Somalia, and to support Desert Locust control operations in the Horn of Africa in 2020.