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FAO and Japan helping to rebuild livelihoods and ensure greater food security in Rakhine State, Myanmar

16/02/2017 Yangon, Myanmar

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today announced that it has successfully delivered emergency assistance to more than six thousand rural households across Rakhine State, a region of Myanmar where nearly half the population is engaged in the agriculture sector.

In order to avoid food insecurity and improve self-sufficiency, following two years of flooding and inter-communal violence, more than 26 000 farmers have received some 200 tonnes of high quality seeds and more than 500 tonnes of fertilizer.

“Thanks to funding by the Government of Japan, this distribution is making a real difference in securing self-sufficiency for farming families in this area of Myanmar,” said Xiaojie Fan, FAO Representative in Myanmar.

However Fan also expressed deep concern about the situation of Rakhine’s rural population, particularly due to their low capacities to withstand shocks and crises, which often lead to reliance on food aid. She called for urgent action to support farmers who continue to suffer from the combination of poverty, prolonged inter-communal violence and the negative effects of natural disasters.

According to the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Myanmar, Rakhine State is home to an estimated 260 000 people that will continue to require food security assistance this year.

“Regardless of all the support provided, current estimates suggest tens of thousands of people are in need of food security assistance. There is an urgent need to continue agriculture-based livelihood interventions as they are critical to reduce these figures. Even small investments in the agriculture sector can bring long-term impacts on the lives of rural populations,” said Andrea Berloffa, FAO Senior Emergency Coordinator. “In addition, considering the fragile situation in Rakhine, these interventions can be an important contribution to support social cohesion, stability and peace.”

Rebuilding self-sufficiency, food security

The high quality crop seeds delivered through this Japan-funded FAO project include paddy, cowpea, groundnut and black gram. This distribution has largely targeted communities affected by the 2015 and 2016 floods and inter-ethnic violence across five townships in the state. Selected beneficiaries have also been provided with more than 5 000 sets of tools and vegetable kits, containing white radish, yard long bean, and bitter gourd seeds. Others have benefitted from livestock restocking (chickens, piglets or goats), providing a source of nutrition for their families, and complementary animal feed and vaccines. Winter crop provisions have helped to decrease farmers’ dependency on monsoon cultivation while increasing access to food throughout the year.

This support is a component of a one-year project funded by the Government of Japan. The project aims to mainstream resilience into livelihood activities to ensure rural communities are better equipped to cope with future disasters. Implemented in Rakhine and Chin States, the project targets a combined total of 50 000 people.

Despite the significant progress made in reaching these vulnerable communities, FAO is seeking an additional US$ 5.1 million in funding that will help it reach an additional 87 000 farmers at risk of food insecurity.

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