The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN-FAO) said at least US$100 million would be required to help farmers in 10 Southern African countries produce sufficient food for at least 20 million people annually in order to wean them off dependency on donated food aid by 2018.
In a statement released at the UN-FAO sub-regional headquarters in Lusaka, FAO sub-regional coordinator David Phiri said the money would be used to buy farm inputs for smallholder farmers, agro-pastoralist and pastoralist farmers in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania, Madagascar and Zambia.
The inputs would include farm seeds, fertilisers and essential farming tools to help farmers cope with the regional impact of the El-Nino-induced drought.
According to Phiri, farmers in the region were better advised to plant as early as October this year to avoid a repeat of the devastating losses of the previous cropping season.
Further, the FAO regional chief urged regional governments to invest in new technologies that can help communities produce drought-tolerant seed and fooder varieties.
He said the practice of conservation agriculture, among other climate-smart farming technologies, could help rural families boost resilience against drought-related shocks.