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FAO and World Food Programme to assist farmers in Congo and Nigeria

The Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have stepped up efforts to assist farmers and alleviate hunger in Congo and Nigeria

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, FAO and WFP will be working in the Greater Kasai area, which has been affected by conflict. FAO will supply food-growing kits, including cultivation tools and fruit and vegetable seeds to allow families to eat for two months and sell any food that is uneaten. Citizens will receive training in raising guinea pigs as a source of protein, and in processing and marketing bamboo to use for fishing equipment, canoes, fences, firewood and utensils. Additionally, WFP will distribute fortified maize, legumes, fortified vegetable oil and iodised salt, as well as cash. Children aged from six months to five years, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women will be treated for three months with nutritious supplements. The joint initiative will be rolled out in partnership with the DRC Ministry of Agriculture and local NGOs.

Greater Kasai was a maize-producing region before the conflict, which has forced a million people out of their homes and off their land. An estimated 3.2mn people are now severely hungry and child malnutrition is widespread.

Meanwhile, in north-eastern Nigeria, hunger has considerably declined for the first time since the Boko Haram crisis. According to the latest Cadre Harminise food security analysis, the number of people living in the three states affected by violence who are facing acute hunger has halved since last August from 5.2mn to 2.6mn. The analysis attributed this to an overall improved security situation and the ramping up of humanitarian and longer-term livelihoods assistance by the Nigerian government and its partners.

FAO has helped farmers in the area by providing cowpea, maize, millet, sorghum, vegetable seeds and fertilises to 1mn people - internally displaced people, returned refugees and host communities - to get them through the last rainy season which ended in September 2017. Food stocks become low during this period. The harvest season is now winding down and communities are transitioning to the next dry season and a new planting phase. FAO is aiming to boost local production through the distribution of farming kits, vegetable seeds, fertilisers and irrigation equipment across 780,000 people in three states.