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Saudi Arabia helps FAO respond to Iraq food security

Staff writer |
FAO is scaling-up critical food and agriculture assistance to highly vulnerable rural households in Iraq thanks to a generous $14.7 million grant from Saudi Arabia.

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The donation is part of a $500 million grant that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided to support Iraqis affected by the recent crisis.

The funds will mainly be used to respond to the needs of thousands of rural households whose livelihoods depend on cereal crops and livestock and who are currently struggling to survive.

"Losses of both assets and income opportunities are exposing a growing number of poor people to an alarming state of food insecurity," said Fadel El Zubi, FAO Representative in Iraq.

"Massive displacement of people and inaccessible farmland, as well as disruptions to fuel supplies, harvest subsidies and food supply chains, are affecting the availability of and access to food. The situation is likely to deteriorate as the crisis continues and the emergency situation becomes increasingly complex," El Zubi added.

The conflict has seriously impacted cereal harvests in key production areas. Ninevah and Salah al-Din governorates, which usually contribute about a third of Iraq's wheat and 40 percent of its barley, are particularly affected.

The reduced harvest may trigger a drop in food supply levels, an increase in import requirements and a rise in food prices. FAO is working to support farming families and provide them with the means to sustain their livelihoods and cope with the crisis.

FAO will soon distribute to farmers critically needed wheat seed and fertilizer for the upcoming planting season, October-November 2014. Simultaneous efforts will be undertaken to build the resilience of conflict-affected rural households through support to develop backyard vegetable and poultry production, while households headed by women and poor families will be trained in home food processing and involved in cash-for-work activities, helping them rebuild their livelihoods, create job opportunities and improve their access to food.

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