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Cambodia farms at risk

Cambodian farmers are at high risk of being affected by climate change due to low levels of awareness, education and adaptation, with women particularly vulnerable, a study released yesterday says.

The study, which surveyed farmers in the provinces of Battambang, Kampong Thom, Takeo and Prey Veng, said that a critical lack of awareness exists despite occasional training programs from NGOs and the government.

In Battambang province, for example, more than 81 per cent of farmers had no knowledge of how to appropriately respond to climate change by using tougher crop strains and improved seed storage techniques, the study reveals.

“Many farmers are making decisions on how to respond without receiving information or support from any source outside of their communities. The farmers have not changed their agricultural practices due to resource constraints, risk aversion, lack of information and technical assistance, and lack of crop insurance,” reads the report, which was conducted by the NGO Forum on Cambodia.

This lack of ability to adapt will heavily affect women, who were found to constitute 70 per cent of those most vulnerable to climate change across the study’s four provinces due to their lower health and education levels.

The report says rising temperatures will increase the intensity of droughts and floods in different parts of the Kingdom, potentially causing rice production levels to plummet.

For example, a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature would render rice cultivation “unviable for many farmers”, while Cambodia’s mean temperature is projected to rise by up to 2 degrees by 2100.

Already, historically high drought and flood levels mean 50 per cent of the farmers interviewed for the study face food shortages.

The solution is for institutions to go as local as possible, said Socheat Sou, interim coordinator at the Cambodia Climate Change Network.

“The government should focus directly on the communities, not only projects at the national and provincial level, but also the commune level,” Sou said.

“Some [farmers] are aware, but not in general. They don’t know how to adapt.”

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