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Poor Harvests in Africa's Sahel Area Threaten Food

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization expects harvests in the Sahel area of Africa to be smaller in 2013 than they were in 2012. The UN agency says a short rainy season reduced grain and cereal production in several countries in the Sahel.

The agency described the conditions in its Crop Prospects and Food Situations report. The report says Chad could experience the biggest drop in cereal production. It also says refugees entering the country have in creased pressure on the local food supply. Chad is now home to over 300,000 refugees from Sudan and Central African Republic .

Senegal, Niger and Mali were also expected to have poor harvests in 2013. Jean Senahoun is en economist at the UN food agency's Trade and Market Division. He says the Sahel area has experienced a series of food crises since 2005. He says this has weakened the ability of those countries to deal with another crisis. He says the world needs to pay attention to the more than 300,000 people who have been displaced in Mali. They fled their homes during the country's conflict in 2012.

An additional 250,000 Malians are still living as refugees in nearby countries. Jean Sanahoun says experts are not yet predicting a major food crisis in 2014. But he say it is necessary to intervene in each area that was affected the uneven rainfall. Such interventions could include selling cereals at below market prices and food-for-work programs. The economist adds that the news about African agriculture is not all bad. He says harvest along the coast of West Africa are likely to be above average.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman.