17 July 2008, Rome – With the clock ticking on Myanmar’s main planting season, agricultural support is urgently needed to restore food production in the country’s cyclone-hit rice bowl, FAO said today.It is incumbent that we provide the Burmese with the tools and seeds they require.
Currently, 75 percent of farmers in the country’s main food-producing region lack sufficient seed, with little time left before the end of the planting season in August. FAO is appealing for US$33.5 million to help cyclone-affected households restore their livelihoods and resume food production during this crucial period. [...]
Over 783 000 hectares of rice paddy fields – 63 percent of paddy land in affected areas – were submerged and up to 85 percent of seed stocks destroyed when Cyclone Nargis struck in May, according to recent assessments led by FAO and the Government. Present yield rates, coupled with the loss of draught animals and power tillers, indicate a reduction of 550 000 tonnes in the paddy rice harvest, or 32 percent of production in the most-affected areas, the UN agency said.
More than 100 000 fishers have also been affected, with significant losses of boats and fishing gear and more than 21 000 hectares of aquaculture ponds destroyed. Fish and rice constitute the key components of the Myanmar diet.
Photo: By Jotman, shows man harvesting rice in Central Java in May 2008. Before the Burmese of the Irrawaddy Delta can harvest rice, they must plant.