ETHIOPIA: Almost a sixth of harvest lost

ETHIOPIA: Almost a sixth of harvest lost

ADDIS ABABA, 25 Nov 2002 (IRIN) - Almost one sixth of Ethiopia’s main harvest has been destroyed by drought, humanitarian organisations said on Monday.

The UN’s World Food Programme said that the scale of the loss could have a “potentially devastating” impact on the country already facing food shortages.

The main crop yield in Ethiopia – the Meher – is harvested in both November and December. But according to initial assessments around 15 percent of the harvest has been lost.

“Early forecasts indicate that the harvest is likely to be around 15 percent less than a normal harvest,” WFP said. “A normal harvest is over 12 million tonnes but is not fully adequate to meet needs.”

Around three quarters of the 65 million population rely on the Meher harvest for their food. But WFP said that food prices are likely to increase, affecting the majority of the population.

“Unlike recent crises in Ethiopia…this crisis will have an impact on many more Ethiopians,” WFP warned. It estimates that around 2 million tonnes of food aid are required for 2003 to feed the population. The Ethiopian government estimates some 14 million people will be in need.

The UN’s Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (EUE) said that lowland areas had lost almost their entire harvest. In East and West Haraghe regions of eastern Oromiya, the drought has taken a heavy toll on crops.

“Crop failure for sorghum and late-planted main season crops will be between 60 percent and 70 percent in some parts of the midlands and highlands, and as high 95-100 percent in the lowlands,” the EUE said.