Nelly Bassily | March 16, 2009
In the rocky and mountainous Labé Region of Guinea, the arable land is limited. During the dry season, farmers like Mamadou Cellou Diallo cultivate bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers near streams. Mr Diallo explains that farmers eat some of the fruit and vegetables, and sell the rest. Local families live off this food and income during the dry season, from November to May.
But this January, the growing season in Labé was cut dramatically short. For more than a week, the temperature dropped close to one degree Celsius. It was colder than any of the area’s elders remember. Neither the crops nor the livestock could withstand the cold.
Mr. Diallo and thousands of other farmers lost their fruit and vegetable crops.
Diaby Barry is a livestock technician in the village of Mali, in Labé Region. He explains the impact of the weather change on livestock. More than 1,100 sheep and goats had spontaneous abortions. According to Mr. Barry, these animals were in the later stages of gestation and could not withstand the stress of the cold. Several adult goats and sheep also died.
Local authorities and NGOs are working alongside the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Program, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to investigate the sudden weather change and support those who lost their livelihoods. The FAO has provided seeds and tools to affected farmers.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on cold weather