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Drought-Ravaged Ethiopia Now Faces a Seed Shortage

A food crisis developing in Ethiopia may get worse because farmers in the drought-ravaged nation are facing a shortage of seeds to plant the next crop, the United Nations said.

More than 10 million people in the east African country are already in need of food aid after the worst drought in 50 years hit crops and killed off livestock. Now, the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization says it needs $10 million within the next two weeks to distribute seeds in time for farmers to plant the next harvest. 

Ethiopia, Africa's second-most-populous nation, is experiencing the worst food crisis since the famines of the 1980s, according to Oxfam International. The UN FAO had previously appealed for $50 million in aid for the country, but only 15 percent of that target has been met so far, it said Friday.

Seed reserves are depleted after 2015 crop failures and some hungry farmers ate the grain they would normally save to plant in the next season, the UN said. Planting for the so-called meher season, which produces about 85 percent of the country's food supply, normally starts in June, and about 1.7 million farmers are short of seed.

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