CAR faces food crisis


A recent rapid food security assessment conducted by the UN and NGOs the political and military issues in the Central African Republic (CAR) could trigger a food crisis in the country.

Since December trade has been interrupted between the area held by the Seleka coalition and the rest of the country, bringing transactions to a halt and leading to sharp price increases.

The cost of a food basket has increased by 40% in the area under the control of the Central African armed forces. Some zones under the control of the Seleka are experiencing food shortages because of price increases. According to the UN an estimated 800 000 people live in the area held by the Seleka coalition.

The productive capacities of households have been reduced due to widespread looting affecting food and seed stocks as well as draught animals and livestock. Additionally, insecurity is stopping farmers from working their fields.
“We are concerned about prospects for the 2013 growing season, due to start in a few weeks,” said Rockaya Fall, UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) representative in Bangui. “Land preparation, which should have begun, is behind schedule in many places due to insecurity.”

Food shortages are expected to be highest during the May to September lean season.
“Although the situation in the field has yet to reach crisis proportions there is a risk it might happen during the approaching lean season. Humanitarian access to the Seleka zone must be ensured to avoid a crisis,” Housainou Taal, UN World Food Programme (WFP) representative in CAR, said.

As food prices increase, income sources the population relies on are dwindling. The marketing season of the annual cotton crop, a lifeline for the northern part of the country, has yet to start in the Seleka zone, depriving farmers of their main income source.

A central African casual labourer could purchase as much as six kg of cassava with a day’s wages a year ago he or she can only purchase three kg this year owing to lower wage rates and higher prices the assessment found.