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Burma: FAO Calls For Funds To Assist Farmers

Myanmar: UN agency calls for funds to assist cyclone-affected farmers

17 July 2008 - With Myanmar's main planting season drawing to a close next month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today that urgent aid is needed to help small farmers in the country's rice bowl, which was devastated by Cyclone Nargis.

Three-quarters of farmers in the South-East Asian nation's main food-producing area do not have the seed needed, and FAO is appealing for $33.5 million - revised upwards from its original call for $10 million - to help households rebuild their livelihoods and boost food production.

"With a reduced rice harvest unlikely to meet the needs of the affected population, food security will depend on providing support to farming households in alternative crop strategies and rapidly restoring livestock-, fisheries-, aquaculture- and forestry-based livelihoods," said Ann M. Bauer, Director of FAO's Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division.

Last week, the UN issued a call for an additional $303 million in funding for responding to Cyclone Nargis, with $51 million earmarked for farming, fisheries, aquaculture and forestries.

More than 780,000 hectares of rice paddy fields - nearly two-thirds of paddy land in affected areas - were flooded and nearly 90 per cent of seed stocks were destroyed by Nargis, according to FAO and Government-led assessments. Production is expected to plummet by nearly one-third, FAO warned.

Additionally, over 100,000 people in the fishing industry have been affected.

FAO set up an Emergency and Rehabilitation Coordination Unit in Myanmar shortly after the storm struck, and such key supplies as high-yielding paddy rice seed, fertilizers, draught animals and livestock vaccines have either already been delivered or are en route to 41,000 households in the hardest-hit townships of Yangon and Ayeyarwady.


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