Famine overshadows Niger’s 50th anniversary

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Niger on Tuesday celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence after the military ruler called for agricultural reforms under the shadow of a famine that threatens the lives of millions.

After a long drought, the poor sub-Saharan country in west Africa is again confronted with a food crisis that threatens seven million people, or almost half the population, according to the United Nations.

But General Salou Djibo, who took power in a coup earlier this year, said in a nationwide a broadcast that he wanted an overhaul of farming to prevent a repeat of the crisis in future harvests, Agence France Presse reports.

“Our goal should be radically to transform the system of agricultural production to definitively bring Niger out of the disastrous consequences of unreliable climate change and the cycle of famine,” he said on Monday night.

Djibo dedicated the celebration of independence from France to the “struggle against food insecurity by sustainable land management.”

The sombre mood in the country was reflected in the low-key independence celebrations, with a simple tree planting ceremony on the outskirts of the capital Niamey one of the few public events.

“Niger prefers to celebrate its 50th anniversary in a simple fashion to take account of the alarming food crisis,” the governor of Niamey, Colonel Soumana, said at Tuesday‘s ceremony.

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