Bangladesh seeks Myanmar farm land on lease

Reuters | Thu Jun 26, 2008

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh urged Myanmar on Thursday to lease it farm land near the border for rice cultivation to meet its growing food demand, an official said.

Vast lands have been left untilled in Myanmar's Rakhine state, bordering Bangladesh's Cox's Bazaar district, as Myanmar produces enough rice to feed its 54 million people, officials in Bangladesh said.

On Thursday, Fakhruddin Ahmed, head of the country's military-backed interim government formally made the request during a farewell call by Myanmar's ambassador Nyan Lynn.

"We are interested to sign an agreement with Myanmar on farming as soon as possible," a spokesman for Fakhruddin quoted him as telling the envoy.

But no details were given.

Bangladesh, which has a population of nearly 150 million people, produces some 30 million tonnes of rice annually, but it often faces scarcity due to natural calamities.

The country lost around 3 million tonnes of its main staple rice due to flooding between July and September last year and from Cyclone Sidr in November which killed around 4,500 people, displaced millions and damaged infrastructure worth billions of dollars.

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