Global perspective Human stories

Myanmar urgently needs one million gallons of fuel to aid farmers – UN official

Myanmar urgently needs one million gallons of fuel to aid farmers – UN official

A senior United Nations official says Myanmar needs one million gallons of diesel fuel to operate 5,000 tillers – farm implements used to break up the surface of soil – to help farmers plant rice in the cyclone-affected Ayeyarwady Delta area.

The tillers were donated by Thailand, China and other countries to help farmers through the current growing season, following the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis.

“The window of opportunity is very short, and the need is of the utmost urgency,” Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said today in a statement. “The planting season in the Delta is June to July after which it will be too late, with disastrous consequences for food security in Myanmar and the region.”

In a meeting with Major General Htay Oo, Minister of Agriculture of Myanmar, in Yangon earlier this week, Ms. Heyzer was told that the country is short of diesel fuel for the tillers. One agricultural tiller will cover 100 acres over 50 working days and requires two gallons of diesel per acre.

More than 134,000 people are dead or missing as a result of Cyclone Nargis and the subsequent tidal wave, which struck Myanmar on 2-3 May. As many as 2.4 million people were affected and need humanitarian assistance. The cyclone also destroyed livestock and buffaloes, which are the traditional animals used for plowing the fields, especially in the Ayeyarwady Delta, the rice-bowl of the country.

Ms. Heyzer stressed that the emergency response and early recovery efforts need to pay special attention to women and children, especially orphans. Women also need to be involved in recovery and reconstruction efforts, including in areas such as the design of shelters, the rebuilding of communities, basic services and livelihoods.

The Executive Secretary visited Myanmar from 9 to 11 June to discuss recovery and reconstruction efforts as well as the country’s longer-term economic and social development.