FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to Myanmar, 16 March 2016

FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to Myanmar, 16 March 2016
Mar 2016

Highlights

  • Cyclone Komen made landfall in Myanmar at the end of July 2015 causing extensive flooding to agricultural land, which remained submerged in some areas until September. This caused severe localized losses to the 2015 monsoon season crops, especially paddy, in Chin, Rakhine, Ayeyarwaddy, Yangon, Sagaing and parts of Bago. However, once the water receded, a large portion of the flooded areas with paddy was replanted. Overall, the amount of irreversible damage was limited.
  • At 27.5 million tonnes, the aggregate national production of paddy, the country’s staple food, in 2015 (monsoon season 2015 and ongoing 2015 secondary season) would be 3 percent below the 2014 crop and 2 percent down from the average of the past three-years.
  • At subnational level, however, cereal production and livelihood of farming households and communities in remote areas, in particular Chin and Rakhine, which concentrate highly vulnerable populations with little resilience and low agricultural productivity, did not recover fully as in other areas affected by the flooding. These populations may face severe food shortages in the coming months and require relief assistance.
  • Livestock and fisheries were affected by the flooding in localized areas with losses of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry, and damage to fish and shrimp farms, resulting in reduced animal protein intake in the most affected areas.
  • The country is a net exporter of rice and the 2015 paddy production, similar to previous years, will exceed domestic requirements, but tighter domestic supplies in marketing year 2015/16 (October/September) are expected to further underpin already high rice prices, raising concerns about food access by most vulnerable sections of the population.
  • Prices of rice reached record levels in August and September 2015, reflecting strong depreciation of the Kyat, increasing rice exports and concerns about the damage to paddy crop. Domestic rice prices declined with the harvest between October and December 2015 but remained at high levels. In February 2016, rice prices averaged 37 percent higher than a year earlier.
  • For the majority of farming households, the main impact of the July flooding was related to the increased costs for replanting and the delayed harvest. Households depending primarily upon day labour, and especially non-skilled day labour, remain among the most vulnerable. They faced a gap in wages during August and have difficulties in obtaining credit.
  • The July flooding was perceived to have moderate impact on children’s nutritional status and little impact on infant and young children feeding practices.
  • In view of the country’s adequate rice availabilities and generally well-functioning domestic markets, the Mission recommends that any eventual food assistance needs to be provided in the form of cash and/or vouchers.
  • To cover immediate agricultural needs following the 2015 flooding, the Mission recommends the distribution of seeds for the next monsoon planting season; as well as water and pest-resistant storage containers to protect farmer’s seeds, along with drying nets and post-harvest equipment in the most affected areas. In Rakhine, Sagaing and Ayeyarwaddy, recording the highest livestock losses, urgent restocking of livestock is required to avoid a further fall in animal protein intake; while the rebuilding of fishing gear and boats and the rehabilitation of fish ponds is also needed in the most affected Rakhine State.