UN in South Sudan air dash as harvest fears mount

2015-05-14 18:07

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Rome - The UN is airlifting seeds to farmers in civil war-wracked South Sudan in a race against time to ensure a grain harvest this year in the worst-hit areas.

The Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday it was running up to 18 flights a day from the capital Juba to parts of the country now inaccessible by truck in a bid to deliver vital supplies of seeds, fishing kits and other tools before seasonal rains make planting impossible.

"For many farmers, this is the only opportunity to plant cereals this year," said Serge Tissot, the organisation's representative in the world's newest country, which has been embroiled in civil war since December 2013.

"Without seeds now, they will have to wait another year to plant and that means they won't see another cereal harvest until the end of 2016."

FAO is hoping to reach 175 000 food-insecure farming families in the states of Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei by the end of May. So far only one flight has been able to land in Unity, which NGOs have been forced to abandon because of a recent surge in fighting.

The agency expects to deliver some form of food aid to 2.8 million people in South Sudan this year.

Its workers have also vaccinated some two million animals in a bid to reduce losses to disease during the rainy season, when many of them will be moved and come into contact with other livestock.

NGOs warned on Wednesday of potentially catastrophic consequences if the president signs into law a parliamentary bill which required aid agencies to limit their foreign employees to no more than a fifth of their total staff numbers.

Read more on:    fao  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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