Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Myanmar: Delta in early rehabilitation and recovery phase

Source: United Nations Country Team in Myanmar - The World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organzation (FAO) published reports from the WFP Delta Food Security and the FAO Delta Crop Assessment, two surveys completed in November 2009, and concluded the Delta is in the early rehabilitation and recovery phase.

The WFP report focused on indicators affecting household food security such as food availability, access and consumption. Rice, a staple food in a typical Myanmar diet, is widely available, and the survey found that food assistance is no longer appropriate in the Delta. In fact, more than two-thirds of households receiving food assistance do not rely on this assistance as a primary source for rice, but rather uses it to supplement rice stocks, and just 60 percent of the sample receives no form of food assistance. WFP has therefore phased out operations in the Delta at the end of December. Household food insecurity is not a function of availability or access to rice, but rather availability and access to diverse food groups including basic foods such as vegetables, pulses and fish

High cost of agricultural production, as well as a lack of income generating opportunities were also cited as factors contributing to food insecurity. Farmers are in need of investment capital to buy quality seeds and fertilizers, but often find themselves caught in a cycle of debt when borrowing funds for their farms. Farming households are furthermore increasingly finding themselves forced into relying on debt to meet basic expenses, such as diverse foods. A lack of employment opportunities in the Delta region is further contributing to the problem.

Nevertheless, farmers have cropped almost all the available acreage, and the increase in overall surface area of cropped land will lead to an increase in overall crop production, despitte deflated yields relative to previous years. The yield for 2009 is estimated at more or less equal to that of 2008, 15 percent to 40 percent lower than what could be achieved under optimum circumstances.

In light of the reports findings, it is recommended that income generating activities supporting agricultural production be implemented in the region to help reduce debt, and programs that increase human capital. For example, restoring productive assets, and enhancement of farm productivity and financial services. Within one cropping or monsoon season, the productivity could increase an estimated 10 percent to 30 percent should the proper programs be implemented quickly.

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