• El Nino hurting agricultural output, requiring food imports
  • People without enough food could rise in coming months

An estimated 14 million people in southern Africa face hunger this year after low rainfall caused poor harvests in 2015, the United Nations World Food Programme said.

The El Nino weather system is worsening the drought this rainy season, hurting crops again, the Rome-based agency said in an e-mailed statement.

“With little or no rain falling in many areas and the window for the planting of cereals closing fast or already closed in some countries, the outlook is alarming,” the WFP said. “The number of people without enough food could rise significantly over coming months as the region moves deeper into the so-called lean season.”

South Africa last year had its lowest rainfall since records began in 1904, while drought and prolonged dry spells have also curbed agricultural output in countries including Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The region may have to import as much as 10.9 million metric tons of grains such as corn, wheat, and soybeans, according to Senzeni Zokwana, South Africa’s agriculture minister.

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