BURUNDI: FAO predicts serious food shortages
BUJUMBURA, 27 August 2008 (IRIN) - Parts of eastern and southern Burundi are threatened with acute food shortages following low agricultural yields compounded by an influx of returning refugees, an official of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.
Presenting the country's Integrated Framework for Classification of Food Security on 26 August in the capital, Bujumbura, the FAO consultant, Méthode Niyongendako, said the north of the country would also be affected.
"The low agricultural yields, diseases attacking plants - mainly cassava - and the influx of returning refugees at the origin of land conflicts are at the origin of the food shortage threat," Niyongendako said.
Although the north of the country would not be spared, the most affected areas would be the Kumoso area in the east and Imbo in the south, Niyongendako added.
The consultant said residents in the north continue to farm the same small plots all year round and had experienced a shortage in the supply of fertiliser and manure.
Niyongendako said relief organisations were providing seed donations in preparation for the planting season, due to start in September.
Agriculture officials should use the Integrated Framework for Classification of Food Security by sensitising farmers to irrigate their crops when the rains stop earlier than expected, the consultant said.
The framework would also allow them to "plan a response in terms of food security interventions" and help in the fight against short-term and long-term food crises.
According to the principle private secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Stockbreeding, Emile Ntahondi, Burundi has already adopted a National Agricultural Strategy aimed at boosting agricultural production and rehabilitating the irrigation system in the Imbo lowlands.
The aim is "to produce 12 months out of 12 months and farm low vegetation-cycle crops", he said.
Under the strategy, loans and fertiliser will be supplied to farmers, he said.
FAO and the government are due to draw up a plan of action for the coming farming seasons, with areas threatened with food shortages being given priority.