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Media Contact: Emily Sollie, 410-230-2802, 443-220-3269 cell, esollie@lwr.org

Lutheran World Relief to Distribute Tons of Seeds, Fertilizer to Distressed Niger Farmers

Baltimore, May 30, 2012 — Planting season has begun in Niger, but without serious intervention, the country will remain in danger of not producing enough food to feed its people. That’s why Lutheran World Relief (LWR) is working with the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) to help farmers continue planting.

Harvest sizes in the land-locked country have decreased due to drought, leaving families extremely vulnerable to hunger.

“Families are in urgent need of help,” says Evariste Karangwa, LWR’s regional director for Africa programs. “During last year’s cropping season we heard reports that families were consuming immature grains because of food shortages.”

In addition, food scarcity often forces the poorest families to sell off agricultural assets, like seeds, and use the proceeds to survive the short term. To help farmers keep up their agricultural production and promote food security in the region, LWR will distribute 221 tons of seeds and fertilizer to farmers in the heavily affected Tahoua Region.

The distribution of these items is made possible by FAO, which is supplying the seeds and fertilizer and contributing toward the cost of distributing the goods. Farmers will immediately use these supplies to plant since the region began experiencing seasonal rains just a few weeks ago.

“LWR is thankful for this opportunity to reach out to farmers in Niger and lessen the impact of the current food crisis,” says LWR president and CEO, John Nunes. “Investing in farmers is a way of sustainably increasing food security in Niger, and across Africa, and this distribution will undoubtedly help families cope through very difficult conditions.”

FAO will supply 146 tons of millet seed, 49 tons of bean seed and 26 tons of fertilizer which will be distributed to 14,576 vulnerable households in the communities of Kalfou, Illéla, Badaguichiri, Baguaroua, Tajaé, Garhanga, Ibohamane, Keita and Tamaské, all areas heavily affected by food crisis.

This intervention is one part of LWR’s larger response to the food crisis in the Sahel, specifically in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. The response includes providing cash-for-work opportunities for 134,000 people in the region to earn immediate income for soil conservation and irrigation work. LWR is also reaching out to women farmers, who are particularly vulnerable in times of crisis, to maximize their incomes through improved marketing skills, crop processing and storage techniques.

In addition, LWR is responding with Quilts and Kits that are currently being distributed in Mali and Burkina Faso to people affected by the ongoing food crisis. LWR has also committed Quilts, School Kits, Personal Care Kits, Baby Care Kits, Fabric Kits and Soap to our partner in Mauritania, the Lutheran World Federation. LWR and LWF estimate these items will reach 24,000 people in need.

WHO IS LWR? Lutheran World Relief works to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and people experiencing poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both in times of emergencies and for the long term. With the financial support of US Lutherans and other donors, LWR strengthens communities through programs in agriculture, climate, and emergency support. LWR works with partners, supporters and technical assistance providers to achieve lasting results. For more information, visit lwr.org.

Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.

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