FAO calls for more funding to assist cyclone hit Myanmar farmers
As the cyclone Nargis devastated large portion of agricultural crop especially in the heart land of Irrawaddy delta, it is feared that there might be large impact on Myanmar’s rice export and at the same time could face large scale food shortage. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) expressing concern has called for US$10 million to assist poor farming and fishing communities in Myanmar.
In a recent press statement released on Friday, FAO said that five worst-affected areas - Ayeyarwady, Yangon and Bago Divisions, and Mon and Kayin States are known as Myanmar’s rice bowl, producing much of the country’s staple food of rice and fish, hence the overall food security situation in Myanmar has seriously been threatened by the storm.
FAO further said that there was an urgent need of rice import by Myanmar which would further intensify the price of world food market, already in alarming zone.
As per FAO report, though the secondary paddy crop of the 2007 season was fully harvested before the cyclone hit with no major crop losses are expected in the region, rice already harvested for household consumption was most likely damaged by the storm surge, adding to the precarious food security situation of poor coastal families.
In addition, Inland and coastal fisheries, poultry and livestock were also either damaged or lost, according to FAO. An estimated 2 million households were affected, meaning that a significant number of farming and fishing families are in need of urgent assistance.
With this level of destruction in Myanmar which was expected to export 6,00,000 tonnes of milled rice in 2008 may face severe local food shortage in the next one and half year.
The aftermath of cyclone has already pushed the Junta ruler to ask for extensive international aid. Considering further the approaching rice season, starting from June, it is also essential to provide all necessary farming inputs to poor farmers and rebuilding their rooted house in order to stabilise their livelihoods.
“It is crucially to mobilise the right type and volume of rice seeds, fertilizer and other production inputs quickly, in order to resume agricultural productivity in a timely manner,” FAO said.
Meanwhile, to implement emergency and rehabilitation strategy the UN Food Organisation is expected to have its preliminary assessment report within the next week.
The cyclone that battered the country last week with winds over 240kmph and over 11 ft water surge has so far killed 23,000 people with over 42,000 still missing as per official figure.
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