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DATE=7/23/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-252066 TITLE=AFGHAN FOOD (L-ONLY) BYLINE=SARAH HORNER DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE UNITED NATIONS SAYS AFGHANISTAN IS FACING ITS WORST RECORDED FOOD SHORTAGES, LARGELY DUE TO THE LOWEST RAINFALL IN 40 YEARS. AS SARAH HORNER REPORTS FROM ISLAMABAD, THIS YEAR'S CEREAL HARVEST IS EXPECTED TO BE MORE THAN ONE-MILLION TONS SHORT OF WHAT IS NEEDED. TEXT: A JOINT MISSION FROM THE U-N'S FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION AND THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM SPENT LAST MONTH ASSESSING AFGHANISTAN'S 1999 CEREAL [GRAIN] HARVEST. CEREAL IS NEEDED TO MAKE BREAD, THE MAINSTAY OF THE AFGHAN DIET. AT A PRESS BRIEFING IN THE PAKISTANI CAPITAL, ISLAMABAD, THE HEAD OF THE U-N'S WORLD FOOD PROGRAM IN AFGHANISTAN, MIKE SACKETT, SAID MORE THAN ONE-MILLION AFGHANS FACE DIRECT SHORTAGES DUE TO THE CEREAL DEFICIT. IN ADDITION, MR. SACKETT SAYS, TWO-AND-ONE-HALF-MILLION AFGHANS LIVING IN CITIES ARE ALSO AT RISK. HE SAYS A SCARCITY OF WHEAT WILL PUSH UP FOOD PRICES. MR. SACKETT SAYS NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN, WHICH NORMALLY PRODUCES MORE FOOD THAN IT NEEDS, WILL THIS YEAR HARVEST A THIRD LESS THAN IT NORMALLY DOES. /// SACKETT ACT /// THE PEOPLE WHO WE ARE TARGETING IN THE YEAR 2000 ARE A MINIMUM OF ABOUT ONE-POINT-TWO-MILLION. I SHOULD ALSO SAY THAT THE URBAN CENTERS SUCH AS KABUL AND MAZAR-I-SHARIF ALSO GIVE US CONSIDERABLE CONCERN, BECAUSE THEY RELY ON FOOD WHICH IS BOUGHT IN THE MARKET, AND BECAUSE OF THE COLLAPSE OF THE ECONOMY PEOPLE FIND IT VERY DIFFICULT TO FIND THE MONEY TO BUY THEIR BASIC NEEDS. /// END ACT /// THE U-N TEAM DISCOVERED THAT GENERALLY THIS YEAR'S CEREAL HARVEST IN AFGHANISTAN IS FORECAST TO BE 16-PERCENT LOWER THAN LAST YEAR'S. A DETAILED REPORT FROM THE MISSION SAYS A STRONG RECOVERY OF THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR IN 1998 HAS BEEN SET BACK BY THE MILDEST AFGHAN WINTER IN 40-YEARS. AFGHANISTAN DEPENDS TO A LARGE EXTENT ON MELTING SNOWS TO PROVIDE IRRIGATION WATER. LAST WINTER'S VERY LOW SNOWFALL, AND LATE AND ERRATIC SPRING RAINS, HAVE CAUSED A SERIOUS SHORTAGE IN THE SUPPLY OF THIS WATER. THE REPORT SAYS THE PROBLEM IS COMPOUNDED BY AN INCREASE IN INSECT DAMAGE TO HARVESTS, AND BY THE INCREASE IN CASH CROPS. IT SAYS MORE AND MORE LAND, PREVIOUSLY USED FOR WHEAT, IS BEING USED TO GROW ONION, POTATO AND OPIUM POPPY AS THESE ARE MORE PROFITABLE. MR. SACKETT SAYS AFGHANISTAN NEEDS MORE THAN A MILLION TONS OF CEREALS TO OFFSET THE FOOD DEFICIT. HE SAYS HE HOPES FUNDING FOR IMPORTS WILL BE FORTHCOMING FROM THE AID COMMUNITY. /// SACKETT ACT /// THIS REPORT HAS ALREADY BEEN SHARED WITH DONORS. THEY HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE SITUATION. PROVIDED WE GET THE DONOR CONTRIBUTIONS, WE ARE CONFIDENT OF GETTING THE FOOD THERE WHEN IT IS REQUIRED. /// END ACT /// TWO DECADES OF WAR HAVE LARGELY DESTROYED AFGHANISTAN'S INFRASTRUCTURE, AND MANY OF THE COUNTRY'S 20-MILLION PEOPLE DEPEND ON OUTSIDE HELP FOR THEIR DAY-TO-DAY SURVIVAL. (SIGNED) NEB/SH/ENE-T/WTW 23-Jul-99 9:28 AM EDT (1328 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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