Rome: Central African Republic (CAR) faces a "dire" food crisis with over half the population suffering hunger following three years of conflict, two UN agencies warned on Tuesday.
Overall crop production in 2015 remained 54 percent below average levels prior to a March 2013 coup which plunged the impoverished former French colony into chaos, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a report.
Production was up 10 percent on 2014 but this was largely due to an increase in the cassava crop. Grain harvests were 70 percent down on pre-crisis levels.
"The situation is dire. Half of the population faces hunger," said Bienvenu Djossa, WFP Country Director in CAR.
The conflict in CAR has led to one million people being displaced from their homes in a country of less than five million where 75 percent depend on agriculture for their living.
The conflict has reduced the number of cattle in the country by almost a half, and the number of of goats and sheep by more than half, the agencies said.
Lake and river fishing has been disrupted, resulting in a 40 percent fall in the catch since the onset of the crisis and a 70 percent rise in prices.
Other important sources of protein have also seen sharp price spikes with groundnut flour up 74 percent and beef nearly twice as expensive as pre-crisis.
The FAO said it had provided 170,900 households with seeds and tools during 2015, benefiting an estimated 850,000 people. The WFP supported the operation by providing food rations to more than 65,000 farming families to prevent them from using their remaining seeds for food rather than planting.
Separately, the WFP provided food through various activities including school meals and emergency food assistance to some 900,000 people.
The two agencies said they would need more funding from donor states to continue their work in 2016.
The FAO is seeking USD 86 million while the WFP said it requires $89 million to respond to urgent needs of 1.4 million people until the end of July in CAR and in neighbouring countries, about half of which it has secured so far.