More than 40 percent of the rural population in the conflict ravaged Central African Republic are facing starvation if local farmers are not urgently assisted in the upcoming planting season, a United Nation food agency said on Monday.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement that nearly 1.3 million people could be affected by food shortage because of the escalating conflict in the country, AFP reported.
It has put out a humanitarian appeal for $241 million to help 1.8 million people in the central Africa country.
“Farmers need urgent help to prepare for the upcoming planting seasons,” the Rome-based FAO said in a statement.
It said the number of farmers affected was about double the estimated level from February, adding that the numbers would increase “dramatically” next year if farmers are not able to sow their crops.
Conflict in the Central African Republic this year has forced about half a million people to flee from their homes and has hurt food production in the country as many farmers cannot access their feilds for farming.
“Seeds have been in short supply due to looting and because people have had to eat them instead of saving them for planting,” Dominique Burgeon, director of FAO’s emergency and Rehabilitation Division told AFP.
Burgeon said farmers had sold tools and livestock and raids on livestock and equipment were widespread.
A crisis in farming will hurt the country’s economy since agriculture accounts for 53 percent of the gross domestic product and is the largest source of employment.
Agriculture exports like coffee, cotton and timber, key sources of foreign exchange earnings, have also dropped this year.
FAO said maize prices in the capital, Bangui, rose 31 percent between January and November 2013, while millet prices increased by 70 percent between March and October in Ouham, a farming hub in the northwest.