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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kandal sugarcane farmers devastated by rising waters

Kandal sugarcane farmers devastated by rising waters

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PG14-story-1.jpg

More than 1,000 hectares have been inundated, while rising gas and fertiliser costs further erode profit margins

HENG CHIVOAN

A farmer unloads his crop of sugarcane in flood-struck Kandal province.

KORKI THOM village - Flooding in Kandal

province has ravaged more than 1,000 hectares of sugarcane fields,

driving prices down and leaving farmers struggling to earn a profit,

Bun Tunsivanna, director of the province's Department of Agriculture,

Forestry and Fisheries, told the Post this week.

"Sugarcane dealers usually pay about 30 million riels (US$7,500) per

hectare, but the price for sugarcane from flooded areas has dropped to

25 million riels ($6,250) per hectare," the director said.

He said that while flooding had not completely destroyed the crops, it

drastically decreased its quality at a time when farmers are already

feeling the pinch from soaring gasoline and fertiliser costs.

The province has about 1,600 hectares of land devoted to sugarcane

farming, and while the quality of some crops has suffered, farmers have

managed to meet domestic demands, Bun Tunsivanna said.

Kith Seng, director of the Department of Planning and Statistics at the

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said brisk domestic

and export sales have helped.

But he also said that larger harvests are needed.

"Sugarcane growers should increase their output in order to supply

growing demand in the country and among regional neighbours," Kith Seng

said.

Farmers in the province say harvests are up but profits have plummeted

as high gasoline and fertiliser costs cut into their bottom line.

"My profits have dropped from last year," said Sok Heng, 55, a sugarcane farmer from Korki Thom village.

She said gasoline and fertiliser cost her about 800,000 riels last

year, while revenue was about 2.5 million riels. This year, revenue was

up but cost, but costs rose as well.

Long Saran, 57, a grower from Saiang district, said dealers are now demanding lower prices for crops from flooded land.

"The flooding has cost me more than $600 in lost profits this month alone," Long Saran said.

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