Remarks at the CND Side Event: Alternative Development and Livelihood Programmes in Myanmar
12 March 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here today to discuss alternative development and livelihood programmes in Myanmar.
I would also like to thank the government of Myanmar for sponsoring this event and for their own support to UNODC's work.
Let me add my own personal experience of this issue, having recently returned from a visit to Myanmar and Shan State, as part of a mission to South East Asia in December 2012.
My views of the issues were enhanced through meetings with high level Government officials, as well as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other partners, such as donors.
Myanmar is the second-largest opium-producing country in the world and currently accounts for 25 per cent of global illicit poppy cultivation.
In Shan State, where 90 per cent of Myanmar poppy is grown, illicit cultivation has increased steadily over the past six years.
The increase in poppy cultivation is mainly a direct consequence of food insecurity, poverty and instability resulting from conflict in underdeveloped areas of the state.
Responding to this problem, the authorities have increased their eradication efforts in 2012.
Nearly 24,000 ha of poppy during the 2012 growing season and almost 90 per cent of this occurred in Shan State.
However, we cannot solve these issues through eradication alone. Instead, an integrated approach is needed.
UNODC has been asked to assist in the development of strategy for the period 2012-2014, and to dramatically increase its support in the area of alternative development.
UNODC currently provides US$ 7 million in alternative development assistance in Shan State, which is funded by the European Union and Germany.
However our funding is sufficient to reach only 10,000 households, while UNODC estimates that 300,000 households are involved in poppy cultivation.
Given the urgency of the situation, UNODC has been also working in partnership with the World Food Programme in the delivery of rice assistance on an emergency basis to farmers affected by the recent eradication campaign.
Around 765 metric tons of rice were delivered in 2012. This partnership with the WFP was also praised by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to Myanmar in May 2012 as a great example of the UN "delivering as One".
These efforts require action not only at the country level, but also at regional and international levels.
We need to move confidently and comprehensively from "food crops" to long term "cash crops."
Our work also needs to be based on extensive consultations with all stakeholders, including, of course, local farmers.
UNODC in this regard will forge additional partnerships to enhance infrastructures, education and health services supported by other partners.
We will also increase efforts in the promotion of best practices and lessons learned from neighbouring countries such as Thailand, but also in South America in countries such as Colombia and Peru.
Just as importantly, we will continue to engage with Myanmar and its neighbours to create regional opportunities for the products deriving from alternative development.
Our approach is in line with our focus on the entire alternative development chain.
It is not sufficient for us to promote alternative development if we are not prepared to help farmers to market and sell their goods.
We need to do everything we can to ensure that farmers who decide to change their lives are fully supported.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Myanmar is involved in a process of transition and UNODC stands ready to do everything possible to assist.