Financial aid and global coordination are needed to prevent the Ebola health care crisis from becoming a food emergency, agriculture ministers from West African nations at the center of the Ebola outbreak said Wednesday.
In Sierra Leone, where thousands are infected and more than 900 have died, 40 percent of the farmers have abandoned their fields, said Joseph Sam Sesay, minister of agriculture, forestry and food security. Coffee and cocoa beans amount to about 90 percent of the country's agricultural exports, and the region where they are grown has been struck hard by the virus.
"Farms have been abandoned. Some families have been wiped away. Some villages have been wiped away. It is very serious," Sesay said. "We have to understand that agriculture is the mainstay of our economies. If agriculture is down our economies will be down."