Many in Burma hungry despite food surplus

Published on 05 February 2009

Myanmar, once known as the rice bowl of Asia, still boasts a surplus of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rice and maize. Yet a tenth of the population is going hungry, according to the first U.N. food security report on the country. "The reality is that this country has got massive potential," said Chris Kaye, country representative for the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), which has been operating in Myanmar since 1994. "Not only is it a major producer of rice but also many other agricultural products. There should not be a need for food assistance in Myanmar," said Kaye. [...] In remote Chin, a rat infestation triggered by bamboo flowering in early 2007 has affected food supplies, the report says. Kaye told AlertNet that the state, the poorest in Myanmar, is "very poorly served by development assistance and there's been limited support from the government." Northern Rakhine is home to the Rohingyas, an oppressed Muslim minority who have recently turned up on the shores of Thailand and Indonesia with tales of abuse by both the Thai and Myanmar militaries.

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