Photo: International Rice Research Institute
New York, US – The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Tuesday launched an emergency response programme to support farmers in northern Benin, who lost crops, livestock and fishing grounds when the region was hit by floods in August.
The FAO Director-General, Mr. Jose Graziano da Silva, who was in Benin to launch the programme, said: “This is emergency assistance with a longer-term view, in that it includes awareness raising and training on resilience for community members and local authorities.”
He said: “This can help shape a new approach that looks to the future beyond the short time frame of immediate emergencies.”
He noted that agriculture accounted for 70 per cent of employment in Benin and in the rural and impoverished northern region, families are even more dependent on agriculture and less able to cope with repeated setbacks.
The FAO Chief stated that many of the villagers who were hit by the floods this year were only getting back on their feet from the last floods in 2012.
The government estimates that crop losses alone are estimated at some US$ 20 million.
Due to the scale of the destruction, the government has nearly exhausted its resources assisting victims with food, shelter and cash transfers, with little possibility to help re-launch the agricultural sector.
The FAO stressed that the emergency programme would assist some 7,500 households that have been worst-affected by the floods by supplying quality seed for rice, off-season vegetables and maize and farming equipment.
Others are fertilizers, training in seed production and conservation, and storage infrastructure to reduce production losses.
It disclosed that farmers would also be trained in modern technologies and best practices, such as micro-dosing of fertilizers, to increase production, reduce costs and protect the
The statement said that on Sunday, Mr. da Silva took part in a ceremony to immediately activate the emergency assistance in the northern villages of Malanville and Karimama.
The two villages were the worst affected by the flooding, where nearly all agricultural products were wiped out, and farmers were left with no crops and no seed for planting anew.
FAO also said a portion of the emergency funding would go to rehabilitate the commercial activities of some 1,300 young people who had started farming under a Beninese government
programme aimed at creating rural jobs and economic opportunity.
The programme’s resilience workshops would also benefit local community services by raising awareness of good agricultural practices, disaster risk reduction, climate change
adaptation and natural resources management.