UN calls for urgent seed, fertilizer aid for conflict-affected northern Ethiopia

by IANS |

Addis Ababa, May 8 (IANS) The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has called for the provision of seeds and fertilizers to farmers in conflict-affected northern Ethiopia ahead of main rainy season.

"Seeds and fertilizers need to urgently be available for farmers across conflict-affected northern Ethiopia to support the Meher planting season (Ethiopia's main rainy season) which is just weeks away," UNOCHA was quoted as saying Xinhua news agency.

It said the overall humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia remains dire, as the UN continues to closely work with all stakeholders to scale up much needed assistance in Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions.

"The food and nutritional security in conflict-affected communities across northern Ethiopia will be further impacted if seeds and fertilizers are not availed on time to farmers ahead of the harvest season," UNOCHA warned.

Ethiopia's main rainy season, which covers the period from June to September, contributes to the production of about 85 percent to 95 percent of the food crops of the country, according to government figures.

UNOCHA warned that failure to provide seeds and fertilizers would result in a third consecutive poor agricultural season in the conflict-affected areas.

"The implication of a third consecutive poor agricultural season will be devastating on the lives and livelihoods of the conflict-affected population," it said.

In the Tigray region, UNOCHA said, some 60,000 metric tons (MT) of fertilizer, 50,000 MT of improved crop seeds, 40,000 liters of pesticides and 34,000 liters of fungicides are needed. In addition, vaccines, drugs and equipment are also required for at least 12 million livestock.

In the Amhara region, 3.3 million farmers are in need of at least one type of agricultural intervention; out of these, 2.6 million farmers are targeted for multiple types of agricultural interventions.

The UN estimated that more than 9 million people now need food assistance in conflict-affected parts of northern Ethiopia.

Humanitarian aid is recently heading to the Tigray region, albeit insufficient according to the UN, after the Ethiopian government and the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) agreed to a conditional cessation of hostilities and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid into the region.

The TPLF and the Ethiopian National Defense Force, backed by allied forces, have been engaged in an 18-month conflict that has reportedly left tens of thousands of people dead and millions of others in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The Ethiopian parliament designated the TPLF as a terrorist organisation in May 2021.

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