(CNN) -- Myanmar is facing a food shortage largely due to last year's deadly Cyclone Nargis, which destroyed nearly all the rice crops in the fertile Ayeyarwaddy delta, the United Nations said Wednesday.
A young farmer ploughs a field in preparation to grow rice in Dalla, about 20 kms south of Yangon on July 9, 2008.
Rice production in the cyclone-affected areas of Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon, the largest city and former capital of Myanmar, is expected to be 50 percent of last year's, according to the report issued by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP).
Rat infestation in western's Myanmar's Chin State has also contributed to the food shortage, the report says.
"Access to food remains the critical challenge for the poorest people and for vulnerable populations in remote areas of Myanmar," Chris Kaye, WFP's representative for Myanmar, said in a written statement. "And for many of those affected by Cyclone Nargis, who are engaged in rebuilding their lives and livelihoods, the limited delta harvest means they will continue to rely on assistance to meet their food needs." Watch Paul Risley of the WFP discuss the food crisis »
Although rice production is expected to be adequate this year because of strong crops in other areas of the country, access to food remains a serious challenge to Myanmar's poor, especially in the delta region, the report said.
More than 5 million people fall below the food poverty line and emergency food aid is still needed in cyclone-affected areas, the report said. The cyclone also hurt the cattle and fishing industries, contributing to the food crisis.
"Humanitarian assistance has not restored the production capacity of small to medium-sized farms," He Changchui, FAO's Asia-Pacific regional chief, said in a written statement.
"Farmers and fishers are unlikely to self-finance their needs this year, thus entering into a spiral of pauperization of the delta."
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