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August 26, 2011

Niger launches irrigation programme

Niger has launched a 10 billion CFA francs ($21.9 million) irrigation programme to grow at least 1 million tonnes of food, including 400,00 tonnes of cereals, the government said on Thursday.

The poor west Africa nation perched on the edge of the Sahara suffers frequently from droughts and often relies on international donors for food aid.

"This pilot crop irrigation programme is aimed at proving that not every drought should inevitably lead to famine in Niger," the government said in a statement on national TV.

It said 86,879 hectares of land near marshes, water catchment areas and farmland around the river Niger would be used.

About 80 percent of uranium-rich Niger's 16 million people, depend on agro-pastoral farming for their livelihood.

After a record harvest last year, the government has said in the past weeks it was concerned another food shortage could hit the country following poor rainfall this season, and 3 million people are being assisted with food supplies this year.

The country experienced one of its worst food crisis last year with about half of its population affected.


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