(Updates to add food security outlook in fifth graph.)
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- South Sudan faces a grain shortfall of 470,000 metric tons this year, close to half the country’s total consumption, that will make more people food insecure, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization forecast.
Cereal output in 2011 fell 19 percent to 562,600 tons, hurt by a dry period that started in June before the return of more normal rainfall at the end of July, the Rome-based FAO wrote in an e-mailed statement today.
South Sudan declared independence from northern neighbor Sudan on July 9, and the countries this month signed a non- aggression pact aimed at preventing cross-border clashes. Trade restrictions between the two nations have “significantly” cut availability of food commodities, the UN agency said.
“Civil insecurity, in the form of armed cattle rustling, inter and intra-communal conflict and militia attacks continue to hamper the country’s production capacity, particularly limiting the potential expansion of cropped area,” the FAO said.
The FAO estimates 4.7 million people in South Sudan will be food insecure this year, from 3.3 million last year, while those who may be “severely food insecure” could climb to 1 million from 900,000 in 2011. A decline for the South Sudanese pound and rising fuel costs lifted food expenses last year, the FAO said.
The FAO estimated as much as 185,000 tons of food will be needed to help the most food-insecure households, children, refugees and people returning to the country. The organization said it is supporting distribution of livestock vaccines, fishing equipment, vegetable seeds and tools to help long-term development in South Sudan.
As an emergency measure, the FAO said it will provide vaccines and antibiotics to prevent the spread of animal disease, treating as many as 100,000 animals over the space of a month.
“These people are pastoralists, or herders,” Nimaya Mogga, livestock officer at the FAO, was cited as saying in the statement. “These cattle are their livelihood. Without them, they have nothing.”
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