Nearly 700,000 in Georgia(Russia) Need Food Assistance Due to Drought : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nearly 700,000 in Georgia Need Food Assistance Due to Drought

ROME, Sep 22, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Nearly 700,000 people in Georgia need emergency food assistance because of a devastating drought coupled with on-going economic problems, the UN food agency said Thursday.

Cereal production in the southern Caucasus country dropped 58 percent this year compared to 1999 because of lack of rainfall.

The drought badly affected rain-fed crops and sharply reduced the water availability for irrigation, according to a crop and food supply assessment mission undertaken by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP).

The drought affected almost all aspects of agriculture, the main source of income and employment for more than 50 percent of Georgia's 4.7 million people.

The country endured long years of civil war after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"The drastic decline in agricultural production -- of cereals, fruit, vegetables and livestock -- this year will seriously affect household food security, because of reduced availability not only of foodstuffs but also of earnings from the sale of livestock products and other produce," said a report, based on the joint August 7-18 mission to the country.

As a result, to meet basic food requirements, the country will need to import almost 750,000 tons of cereals in 2000-2001, much more than usual.

The uncovered food aid requirement is estimated at 223,000 tons, including 112,000 tons of wheat, 88,000 tons of maize, as well as barley and rice.

The report noted that in some markets, the price of tomatoes and onions shot up by more than 100 percent.

"The drought is forcing more and more people to rely mainly on bread consumption," says the report. It said that in households most affected by the drought, the main meal is "empty soup" -- a few vegetables boiled in water with what spices are available.

"Many rural households are faced with sharply reduced output of virtually all basic crops and livestock products and will be forced to cut back food consumption," the report said, adding that rural Georgians had little money with which to buy food at commercial markets.

WFP is carrying out a long-term rehabilitation operation for some 450,000 Georgians, but is examining ways in which to expand its assistance to help the hundreds of thousands of people most affected by the drought.

FAO also appealed to the international donor community to provide funds to assist drought-affected farmers with the seeds they need to ensureproduction and avoid food aid beyond next year's harvest. ((c) 2000 Agence France Presse)

-- Martin Thompson (, September 23, 2000

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