Diesel fuel needed to restart farming

Jun 16, 2008 (DVB), A senior United Nations official has said that Burma needs one million gallons of diesel fuel to restart rice production in the cyclone-affected Irrawaddy delta.

Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, called on the international community to donate one million gallons of diesel fuel that the regime says is needed to operate mechanical tillers donated by other countries.

"The window of opportunity is very short, and the need is of the utmost urgency," Heyzer said.

"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."

U Min Swe, the 1990 elected people’s parliament representative in Phyar Pon township, said local farmers are suffering shortages of diesel fuel and farming vehicles.

"So far I haven’t heard anything about the solution from the government about fuel , but a number of tractors have arrived into the region," said Min Swe.

"But we are hearing complaints about the authorities asking from 200,000 to 500,000 kyat from the farmers for each tractor."

"They are only providing one tractor for every 10 farmers , this is not going to work."

A private donor who recently went to the Irrawaddy delta said farmers from Sein Yati, Htaw Pai, Thabyay Chaung and Taung Yar Chaung villages some distance from Bogalay were facing difficulties restarting production after losing all their equipment and cattle in the cyclone.

"Farmers in Seint Kyun, Kat Tha Yaung and Kat Tha Myin villages have also appealed for donations of farming equipment as well as crop seeds," the donor said.

"They were asking sympathetic people to donate rice grain, but that is now priced at 700,000 kyat for 100 tin which is a lot for donors to afford."

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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