The United Nations says farmers in southern Madagascar urgently need support ahead of the year-end crop-planting season to offset the devastating impact of years of drought.

The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme said Friday that more funding is needed to help an estimated 850,000 people facing hunger in southern Madagascar.

U.N. officials say they will start distributing plant cuttings and seeds to farmers in December, as well as provide food and cash to help sustain people until the next harvest around March and April.

Southern Africa has been experiencing its most severe drought in more than three decades, leaving millions of people in several countries in need of food aid.