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Concern over low food yields in south


A food security watchdog says lower than expected cereal production has been recorded in southern Somalia due to poor and erratic rains during the April-June (Gu) season.

In its latest report, the Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) - a joint project of the EC and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation - said "erratic and unevenly distributed" rains had impacted on the cereal production in southern Somalia

"Poor rainfall occurrence and distribution negatively affected maize crop establishment," it said.

The report added that due to "poor irrigation infrastructure and inaccessibility", production levels had been lower than in 2002. A Somali agronomist told IRIN that since the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, no-one has been able to desilt the riverbeds or manage the sluice gates on the rivers or adjoining canals, all of which contributed to seasonal flooding which destroyed what was left of the irrigation system.

The two most-affected areas were the southwestern Bay Region, which normally accounted for 70 percent of the country's sorghum production, and the southern Lower Shabelle Region, which normally accounted for 60 percent of maize production, the agronomist said.

"This is the worst production from the two regions in the last two years," he added.

The FSAU report also blamed the low production "on soil insects (white grubs), grasshoppers, stem-borers and rodents (rats)" in many parts of southern Somalia.

According to the report, the low yields mean that in areas like the southern Hiran region, "around 30 percent of the agro-pastoral households in Belet Weyn district will be facing a [food] deficit of 10-25 percent".

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