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Press Release 97/72

FAO Rushes Farm Assistance to Rural Flood Victims in Somalia and Myanmar

Rome, 9 December -- Somali farmers, devastated in recent floods that destroyed 60,000 hectares of crops and farmland, will receive $400,000 worth of emergency agricultural supplies and farm implements from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the agency announced today. Some 1,500 people died as a direct result of the flooding and another 230,000 were displaced and 21,000 head of livestock was lost. In all, about 20,000 farm families affected by the flooding in the regions of Gedo and Middle and Lower Juba will receive help from FAO.

Using its existing network of national agronomists in Somalia and working with international and local NGO's in the affected areas, the FAO emergency relief effort will provide seeds to grow food and cash crops.

FAO said it expects to immediately begin buying 2000 packs of assorted vegetable seed regionally this week, which it will airlift to Somalia. Other seeds will include sesame and cow pea. Small hand tools will also be included as part of the agricultural rehabilitation project. The hand tools will be manufactured by blacksmiths in the stricken districts, saving time, money and providing income to poor blacksmiths in the country.

FAO is also providing Myanmar, formerly Burma, with $318,000 to rehabilitate its agriculture which was hit by unusually widespread flooding in July and August, devastating 510,000 hectares of crops. Some 124,000 farmers lost their crops because of the floods and there is an acute shortage of seeds for planting.

At the request of the government of Myanmar, FAO will provide sunflower, soya bean and vegetable seeds for free distribution to flood-stricken farmers by the Myanmar Agriculture Service. FAO will also assist in organizing transportation from the delivery point to the distribution sites.

For further information contact: John Riddle at (396) 5705-3259


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