Myanmar urgently needs diesel for food security: UNESCAP

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Bangkok, Jun 13 (UNI) Myanmar urgently needs one million gallons of diesel to ensure the cyclone-ravaged country can plant its rice harvest in time to ensure national food security, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) said here today.

The fuel is needed to power tilling operations for the June/July rice sowing season in the Ayeyarwady Delta which bore the brunt of Cyclone Nargis last month.

ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer has called on Southeast Asian nations and international donors to assist Myanmar's rice farmers.

Ms Heyzer issued the appeal after a meeting this week in Yangon with Myanmar's Agriculture Minister, Major General Htay Oo.

''The window of opportunity is very short, and the need is of the utmost urgency. 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,'' the UN official said in a statement.

The cyclone has crippled farming operations in Myanmar's food bowl, killing buffaloes and livestock traditionally used for tilling.

Power tillers donated by the international community after the natural disaster need diesel which is in short supply due to high international oil prices.

UNI XC PD UCS1551

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