When food is scarce, people can borrow
rice from the Rice Bank.
The local economy in Mung Koe Township has been in disarray since 2002, when local authorities enforced the eradication of opium. For the majority of the rural population, work in opium fields was a major source of income. Those with access to land and capital grew opium on small farms, and those who were landless or very poor worked in the fields of others – mainly Chinese entrepreneurs. For more than 10 years, opium has been the primary crop in Mung Koe, although it is suspected that even during the previous two decades of Communist rule (1968-1989), opium cultivation was significant as well.
Severe damage has been done to the ecosystem, as many steep slopes have been left bare from over-use by opium cultivation. Farmers have to make a sudden change from a cash-based rural economy to self-employment in agriculture, because virtually no other jobs exist. With depleted and eroding agricultural fields, lack of knowledge about agriculture and lack of capital to pay for agricultural supplies, this is a very difficult task.
World Concern-Myanmar, a partner in the World Food Program since 2002, distributes rice through Food-for-Work and Food-for-Training activities. The food is distributed to school children and vulnerable families in extremely remote areas surrounding Pang Sai and Mung Baw Townships. The current phase of the project is now focused on rehabilitation activities such as sustainable agricultural production and restoration of health and education services. More than 4,000 needy households (25,000 people) in 105 villages benefited from the availability of paid work in the form of food-for-work activities, but the second phase of the project will greatly expand this program into more villages.