Niamey, Niger - Some four million people in Niger, with a total population of 10 million, are threatened by famine this year due to poor harvests, Rural Development Minister Wassalke Boukari, has revealed.
The Minister told a meeting of agriculture experts in Niamey Tuesday that while Niger's total foodcrop needs are estimated at 2,480,000 tonnes, all the eight regions of the Sahelian country have recorded harvest deficit this year.
The total foodcrop productions are estimated at 2,319,206 tonnes, comprising millet, 1,821,899 tonnes, sorghum, 407,787 tonnes, rice, 60,386 tonnes, corn, 18,384 tonnes and wheat, 10,750 tonnes.
Boukari said the harvest projections take into account yields from irrigated farming and the production prospects in the hydro-agricultural sub-sector.
On livestock, he said production has also been poor all over the country, with a further deficit of 1,800,000 tonnes of dry feed.
To combat the famine, the Minister said the government is planning alternative measures such as expanding irrigated farming over 54,864 hectares for 220,000 farmers.
This is expected to yield additional 168,000 tonnes of foodcrop at an estimated cost of more than one billion CFA francs (750 CFA francs=1USD).
The government also plans to create cereal banks, set up security stocks and implement manpower-building projects in the country.
Tuesday's meeting on the mechanism for the prevention of food crisis in Niger examined the poor results of the 2000 farming season with a view to finding solutions to food deficit of 163,000 tonnes recorded this year.
The meeting of specialists from various departments of the agriculture sector, non-governmental organisations and donors operating in rural areas, focused on the results of the farming campaign and proposals to avoid the looming food crisis in the country.