One Million Gallons of Diesel Fuel Urgently Needed To Ensure Food Security in Myanmar

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General, calls on ASEAN countries and donors for an immediate response

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is calling for ASEAN countries, donors and traditional oil suppliers of Myanmar to assist the country’s urgent need for diesel to ensure timely plowing of rice fields in the Ayeyarwady Delta.

In a meeting with H. E. Major General Htay Oo, Minister of Agriculture of Myanmar, in Yangon earlier this week, Dr. Heyzer learned of the country’s urgent need for one million gallons of diesel fuel to operate some 5,000 tillers donated by Thailand, China and others to the region’s farmers to plant rice in time for the June / July growing season. One agricultural tiller (either 16 or 22 horse power) will cover 100 acres over 50 working days and will require two gallons of diesel per acre.

Cyclone Nargis devastated human lives and communities, and destroyed livestock and buffaloes, which are the traditional animals used for plowing the fields, especially in the Ayeyarwady Delta, the rice-bowl of the country.

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

Dr. Heyzer also stressed that the emergency response and early recovery efforts need to pay special attention to women and children, especially orphans. She emphasized the need to involve women in recovery and reconstruction efforts including in areas such as the design of shelters, the rebuilding of communities, basic services and livelihoods.

Dr. Heyzer visited Myanmar 9 – 11 June to discuss recovery and reconstruction efforts and the role of ESCAP in Myanmar’s longer-term economic and social development.