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After deadly floods, Burkina Faso faces 'wet' drought

by Staff Writers
Ouagadougou (AFP) Oct 25, 2007
After deadly floods that hit Burkina Faso weeks ago, the impoverished west African country faces a drought caused by an early and abrupt end to the rainy season, experts said on Thursday.

Fears run high that the weak rains will have a knock-on effect on food prices and would inevitably affect the next cotton harvests in this Africa's top lint producer.

The meteorological services bureau reported a "premature end" to the rains in September when crops were beginning to flower in the west, southwest and the south of the country and just before they matured in the northern parts of the country.

"Starting from the second half of September, we have registered a drastic drop in the intensity of the rains," said Cyriaque Sia, a government agronomy engineer.

He said the fall in production will be felt more in the southern regions, the west and the southwest where the variety of crops grown there generally take long, about six months.

"There will necessarily be a drop in output due to the sudden end in the rains," Bassiaka Dao, of the Confederation of Peasant Farmers of Burkina Faso said, forecasting a 20 to 30 percent plunge.

He also said losses will be heavy in the western and southern farming regions where rains were late in falling.

Floodwaters swamped hundreds of hectares of land in Burkina Faso during the record rains that lashed across about half of Africa's countries between August and September.

Dao said the "intensity of the August rains did not allow the farmers to work in the fields. And when added to this drought, we have to inevitably expect a drop in output," he added.

Burkina Faso early this year registered a surplus cereal production of 1.9 million tons of cereals.

Cotton production is expected to suffer from late arrival of the rains, normally awaited in May but which this year only started falling mid-July.

This year's floods affected some 92,000 people and left 46 of them dead, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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