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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Drought impact fears quelled

Drought impact fears quelled

Droughts and an erratic rainy season have had less of an impact on this year’s rice harvest than previous estimates, according to a Food and Agriculture Organisation report.

The United Nations-backed organisation raised its expected paddy production for the Kingdom to 7.3 million tonnes in 2010, up from 5.9 million tonnes predicted for the year in June.

“The impact of delayed and erratic seasonal rains is now assessed to have been much more limited than previously anticipated,” the FAO’s latest Rice Market Monitor, released yesterday, said.

Overall production is now expected to decrease by 4 percent in 2010, compared to 2009, while the area planted – 2.7 million hectares – was expected to remain unchanged, according to the FAO.

Ministry of Agriculture secretary of state Chan Tong Yves said that delayed and irregular seasonal rains had impacted rice production, but added the ministry expected an increase in paddy this year. He declined to comment further, as the ministry will release its own report next week.

Experts within the Kingdom also echoed Ministry claims that rice production was on the upswing.

“In general, I think production will increase this year,” said Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture.

Cambodian farmers are improving their knowledge of rice production, facilitated by technical assistance from the government and NGOs. An increased number of businesses were also investing in rice production, he said.

Lim Bun Heng, director of Loran Import-Export Co, said yesterday that it was a strong year for rice production.

Sun Kunthor, director general of state-run Rural Development Bank, said that international businessmen were increasingly exploring the Kingdom as a potential rice exporter.

“We strongly believe in Samdech Hun Sen’s policy announcement [targeting exports of one million tonnes by 2015]. I believe it won’t be a problem to meet it,” he said.

He added that three main points required strengthening – quality, productivity, and finding markets.

The FAO said several key short-term actions were being undertaken to boost domestic production. Greater use of high-yielding seeds and modern farming techniques, and improved irrigation, would “raise the current low productivity levels” in Cambodia.

Improved rural transport and electrical infrastructure, as well as increased lending, would also assist the sector.

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