WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In response to significant crop failure caused by lack of rains in Madagascar in early 2006, the U.S. Agency for International Development is sending more than 4 million pounds of sorghum to the affected regions of the country.

In addition, USAID is providing $50,000 for the purchase and distribution of maize seeds for a more long term approach to the situation.

Intended for immediate relief, the sorghum is scheduled to arrive in Mozambique this week and then be bagged and containerized before being sent to Madagascar. As part of a rehabilitation benefit, the maize seeds will allow farmers to plant crops in time for the upcoming season in January, 2007.

Shortened rains in January and inconsistent rainfall in September resulted in successive poor harvests and have affected the access of food for approximately 300,000 people in southern Madagascar. According to a USAID assessment team on the ground, some households have exhausted alternative means of securing income and food.

On December 18, U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar James D. McGee declared a disaster due to localized food insecurity in the southern part of the country.

USAID will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary.

SOURCE: U.S. Agency for International Development via PR Newswire.