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Fishing, farming declines in Myanmar

Dec. 28, 2010 at 8:24 AM

SITTWE, Myanmar, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Farmers and fisherman in Myanmar could fall into a debt spiral because they aren't getting help they need after an October cyclone, a food official said.

Farming and fishing make up the bulk of the income for people in western Myanmar. Up to 60 percent of those residents rely on farming and at least 10 percent rely on fishing for their incomes.

Cyclone Giri hit the area in October, destroying some 30,000 hectares of paddy fields. Fishermen were hit when the cyclone wrecked more than 700 fishing boats and 1,200 sets of fishing gear, creating problems for around 7,500 households.

Cyclone Nargis in 2008 left 2 million people and killed 140,000 residents. The areas of Myanmar hit by Giri, meanwhile, have received less than half of the $53 million they need to recover from the disaster.

Tesfai Ghermazien, an emergency coordinator for the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, told the U.N. humanitarian news agency IRIN that aid needs to come to cyclone-affected areas sooner than later.

"They (farmers and fishermen) may fall into a spiraling level of indebtedness unless they are assisted in full, and in a timely manner," he was quoted as saying.

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