UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced Monday it will give farmers in Zimbabwe a boost by distributing seeds and fertilizers in a bid to tackle hunger in the African nation, a UN spokesperson said.
The FAO has started the major operation in Zimbabwe in support of small scale farmers, as part of FAO's joint efforts with the European Union (EU) to fight hunger this year, Marie Okabe said at a daily briefing.
She said the FAO has procured 26,000 tons of seeds and fertilizers for distribution to 176,000 vulnerable farmers, representing between 10 to 15 percent of communal farmers in the country.
Each farmer will receive enough maize or sorghum seeds and fertilizer, to be provided in time for the upcoming agricultural season which kicks off at the end of this month, to plant a 0.5 hectare lot.
According to FAO, with good seasonal rains, timely implementation and effective coordination, farmers' production in Zimbabwe could more than double this season, compared to the previous year's national average production level.
The FAO has received a total of around 200 million euros (292 million U.S. dollars) for work in 25 countries, of which 15.4 million euros (22.5 million U.S. dollars) goes to Zimbabwe.
Last month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that the situation in the country remains acute, with not enough food to feed all 12.5 million Zimbabweans and funding requirements to provide urgently-needed aid only half met.
According to an assessment by the FAO, World Food Program (WFP)and Zimbabwean Government, only 1.4 million tons of cereal will be available domestically, compared to the more than 2 million tons needed. Even with commercial imports, there will be a 180,000 ton cereal deficit for 2009-2010.