West African farmers get support from World Bank ahead of planting season

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Vegetable Farmers in Sierra Leone. Photo: FAO

Up to US$ 15 million in emergency financing for farmers in West Africa has been provided by the World Bank.

This will provide 10,500 tons of maize and rice seeds to more than 200,000 farmers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have been affected by the Ebola disease outbreak.

More than 9,100 people have so far died in the three hardest-hit countries.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

The support comes just in time for the April planting season.

According to the latest estimates by the United Nations more than one million people could go hungry unless they have reliable access to food.

A World Bank report showed that the Ebola crisis has taken a heavy toll on the economies of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The agriculture and food sectors have been hit particularly hard, as UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric explained.

"Movement restrictions severely dented farmers' ability to harvest crops, market produce, prepare fields for planting and maintain a steady supply of seed for planting in the next season. Desperate farming families have resorted to eating stored seed originally intended for use in the next cropping cycle, while rural flight has caused harvest-ready crops to wither in the fields."

The World Bank says agriculture is the lifeline of the economies of the West African countries.

By speeding up supplies of urgently needed seeds of major food crops to communities there, the Bank says it is jump-starting recovery in rural areas and preventing what it called the "looming spectre of hunger".

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’15″

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