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Emergency Rehabilitation and Coordination Unit

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Volume 2, Issue 4

of August 2010, a whole month later than the normal schedule. However, the more norAugust 2000-2009 mal rains in August Average and September August 2010 Average came as a breather for farmers. By the end of September, farmers, despite many hamstringing factors, were able to cultivate almost all the planned projections. In Bogale, according to the Myanmar Agricultural Service (MAS), the actual cultivated acreage of 310,718 at the end of July 2010 exceeded the plans by 44 acres. Also in Labutta, by partments such as MAS and numerous UN agencies and INGOs and LNGOs operating in these areas. These two southern Delta townships were among the hardest hit areas during the disastrous Cyclone Nargis in 2008. The 43 year old farmer U Mya Hlaing from Mya Thein Tan Village Tract in the southern Bogale Township recounted his experience. U Mya Hlaing owns a total of 5 acres of which 3 acres lie in low land area. Usually U Mya Hlaing would prepare land and then plant by the end of June. However, this monsoon season was different and he stated. I had to plant late because of the lack of rains. Rains were erratic during June and July. As such growth rate of paddy seedlings was slow. He further said that he had finished land preparation in time due to the power-tiller provided by FAO. The usual land preparation finished in time because of FAO donated power-tiller. I am a member of power-tiller group so that I could employ it with reasonable cost. Otherwise I would have to hire a machine or a pair of buffalos. Cost would be high. Despite the anxious start this season, U Mya Hlaing expected normal harvest. The most welcome occurrence for Delta farmers during the months of August and September was that rains became normal, according to the MAS. There were 24.5 inches of rainfall in Bogale during August while the ten year average for August (from 2000 to 2009) is 26.8 inches average. For the first 20 days of September 2010, there were 15.93 inches of rainfall in Bogale. According to the MAS data, Labutta boasted 23.4 inches of rainfall in August this year. The ten year average (from 2000 to 2009) for August is 29.3 inches average.For the first Continued on Page 2

NORMAL RAINS IN MID-MONSOON PERIOD EASED DELTA FARMERS CONCERNS well to the end was helped by the governmental deBogale area rainfall August 2010
28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 Rainy Days Rainfall (Inches)

As September drew near to its end, Delta farmers heaved a collective sigh of relief. Gone were the days of June and July when erratic rains brought much less than usual rainfall to the region. The low rainfall had made farmers anxious as their mon-

Figure 1: Probability of Above Normal Rains.

soon paddy cultivation was directly affected and delayed in some places. In southern Labutta, the delay lasted

the beginning of September, farmers were able to grow 445,435 acres, 531 acres more than the plan. The effort

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20 days of September 2010, Labutta received a rainfall of 20.08 inches. It is very essential for the paddy fields to receive normal rains for sustained growth. With more or less normal rains farmers felt the worst was over. Last year thousands of Delta paddy fields were plagued by packs of rodent. According to the MAS figure, a total of 3 million rats were eliminated between

Emergency Rehabilitation and Coordination Unit

April 2009 and January 2010. For the present crop season, farmers have so far reported normal rodent activities which they said they could well manage. Farmer U Mya Hlaing said that rodent issue this season was very much less compared with the previous monsoon crop season. His words were echoed by farmers across the region. With normal rains and moderate rodent infestation so far this season Delta farmers expect almost normal harvest. However, farmers are anxious about the possibility of continued rains during November and December (see Figure 1). It could coincide with harvest time for monsoon paddy as well as land preparation and cultivation schedules for winter crop in the whole country.

The typical scenes of NRS Landscape. Food Security is a very important issue for the whole area.


Situated in the westernmost tip ofthenation,Buthidaung,Rathedaung and Maungdaw Townships are collectively known as the Northern Rakhine State (NRS). The early morning steamer service from Sittwe would pass Rathedaung and arrive at the little bustling town of Buthidaung on the west bank of Mayu River in the late evening. Maungdaw is another hour by land route west of Buthidaung. The townships are situated on mostly flat land crisscrossed by numerous rivulets and streams. From June to September every year heavy seasonal rains cause landslides and mudslides which effectively block the only land route between Buthidaung and Maungdaw. The heavy tropical downpours also adversely affect livelihoods of the rural communities in the region. The total population in the three townships is about 910,000 by the 2008 estimate. Almost 90 percent of the population makes their living as farmers, seasonal laborers, fishing, foragingandcollectingfirewood,bamboo and thatch. By some estimates, almost 82 percent of the male population makes its living from farming and related works. Throughout the region, arable land is scarce and productivity is generally poor. Rice is the primary crop throughout the region together with such secondary crops as legumes, mustard, groundnuts, culinary crops, variety of vegetables and fruits The majority of population in the NRS faces food insecurity issues. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in Myanmar (FAO) first went to the NRS in May 2000. From that time onwards, FAO has donated water pumps, rice seed, pulses, vegetable seed, RIR chickens and goat to the vulnerable rural households. Further, FAO has also given technical assistance for water resources management, technical assistance for farming communities such as farmer field school sessions. The aim of the FAO projects is to uplift the socio-economic status of poor farmers. Overall, it is to improve sustainable food and nutrition security at household levels. In a way it could alleviate poverty among rural communities. In general, food security and agriculture directly relate tovulnerability,poverty,natural disasters, income generation, availability and access to food, health, hygiene and nutrition. In 2010, more FAO assistance headed for the NRS townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw under the projects OSRO/MYA/001/CHA and OSRO/MYA/003/CHA. In all beneficiaries from many village tracts in ButhidaungandMaungdawTownships received FAO assistance under these projects. By these assistance programs, FAO is distributing agricultural related inputs such as rice seed, fertilizer, vegetable seed and pulses. Not only that, FAO is also distributing draught and livestock animals to the vulnerable rural families. To reach the most vulnerable people as much as possible, FAO has introduced participatory community development approach to empower the small farmers. The district and township level staff from Myanma Agricultural Service (MAS) and Livestock Breeding andVeterinary Cooperative Limited (LBVCL) helped in distributing the FAO assistance.

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The breeze scattered the rice bran across the still waters of pond. Suddenly the still waters became crowded with busy fish that raced up to the surface for food. The 58 year old U Ngwe Tun and his wife Daw Mae Nyo gazed as his son Aung Zaw dumped basket after basket of cow dung and rice bran into the busy waters of the pond. U Ngwe Tun remembered It was in July of last year when we first received fish fingerlings. I well remembered how we felt when we first received the news. Our family was one of lucky ones. It was like regeneration of hope. I myself drove the boat to the water gate where fingerlingswerebeing distributed. During a FAO monitoring visit in August 2010, U Ngwe Tun declared he would sell his fish in coming December. Although tilapia had perished carp looked good. Unfortunately my tilapias perished due to the presence of some wild fish. As for my carps, about 3,700 remain out of the original 4,400. I keep the same amount of feeding for them. They look alright for now. I expect to sell them this December. By that time, he expected his fish to weigh at least 1.8 pounds or 0.816 kilograms each. He was confident of some profit although he declined to elaborate on the matter. Daw Mae Nyo summarized. Its a simple logic. If we have more money the fish would U Ngwe grow faster. But Tun and other we are satis25 beneficiarfied with what ies from Daythey are now. danaw village We could not tract in Kungyrehabilitate our angon Townfish farm alone. ship received FAO came to As U Ngwe Tun is about to examine his fish Daw fish fingerlings and other in kind as- Mae Nyo looks on. Their children help them withour assistance when we needfeeding the fish. It is a family business. sistance from Food and Agricultural ed. For this, we thank FAO. Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in July 2009. It was under the project OSRO/MYA/902/SWE . The U Ngwe Tun , his 57 year old wife aim of the project was to support the Daw Mae Nyo and their five children recovery of small scale aquaculture also own 15 acres of land. The famin the Nargis stricken areas. Some ily grows both monsoon and winter beneficiaries, like U Ngwe Tun, had run paddy. The average yield per acre is 30 fish farms before Nargis while oth- baskets for monsoon and 100 baskets ers were new comers into the busi- for winter paddy. Therefore, U Ngwe ness. For the selection of beneficiar- Tun does not have to buy most of the ies FAO was partnered by the NGO fish feed. For rice bran, I get it from Ever Green Group (EGG). EGG also my own paddy fields. My cousins and trained beneficiaries in fish breed- relatives give away cow dung freely to ing techniques. FAO provided a total me. So I am lucky. Otherwise finding of 77,000 carp and 44,000 tilapia fish such items could mean a big headache fingerlings plus 5.5 metric tons of fer- for me. He has been feeding his fish tilizer varieties as urea, TSP and Lime. a daily menu of 14.5 kilograms of cow dung plus 3.4 kilograms of rice bran. U Ngwe Tun had ran fish farm be- Like other fish farm owners, U Ngwe fore. Therefore it was not a new en- Tun also faces financial constraints. deavor for him. Just before the Cyclone Nargis U Ngwe Tun had 6,000 carp in his fish farm. He received 6,000 tilapia and 4,400 carp fingerlings. The fingerlings were put into two ponds of 2 acre and 0.5 acre . With his prior experience U Ngwe Tun did well. He said, I was advised on how to prepare water and feeding techniques.They were different yet more systematic compared with ours. Besides, I learned from other more experienced fish farm owners nearby. We helped each other.

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Emergency Rehabilitation and Coordination Unit

FAOs Emergency and Rehabilitation Programme is made possible thanks to generous funding from the following donors:

For More Information:

Mr. Tesfai Ghermazien Senior Emergency Rehabilitation Coordinator

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FAO Representation in Myanmar Seed Division Compound (Myanma Agriculture Service) Insein Road, Yangon, Myanmar (P.O. Box 101) Phone: +95-9-85-86252 Fax: +95-1-641561 E-mail: