THE Country is bracing itself for a rice shortage this year caused by fighting the
Khmer Rouge, state radio said on July 21.
Quoting from a Ministry of Agriculture report, state radio warned Cambodia might
"face a rice shortage of up to 200,000 tonnes in 1994."
Cambodia, once a rice exporter, has now become short of rice and will need to import
the staple, the radio warned.
"The problems of food supply are caused mainly by war which has shrunk agricultural
land while other [agricultural] areas have become minefields and others have become
drought-affected," state radio said.
Finance Minister Sam Rainsy said rice prices in local markets had increased 33 percent,
affecting the living conditions of most ordinary people. He predicted a net rice
shortfall of 180,000 tonnes for 1994.
Rainsy said: "It seems now the rice harvest of this year will be very bad. Before
the next harvest we'll have to import."
He said a shortage of fertilizers, low-yielding paddy fields and illicit paddy sales
to neighboring Thailand were other factors affecting production.
The most fertile rice growing land in Cambodia lies in northwest Battambang province
which has seen worsening security problems during the last dry season.
The rice shortage has been partially mitigated by the Australian government providing
9,400 tonnes of rice worth $3.9 million .
Outgoing Australian Ambassador John Holloway presented the aid package to the Cambodian
Red Cross at a hand-over ceremony on July 8.
The rice will be distributed through World Food Program (WFP) in collaboration with
Cambodian Red Cross to the needy people in Cambodia in various modalities of good
assistance, including: food-for-work activities to develop rural infrastructure,
emergency assistance to internally displaced persons, hospital and orphanage feeding,
and in support of various human resource training activities.
During the 1992-93 period the Australian government contributed 4,650 tonnes of rice
valued at $2.2 million to Cambodia through WFP.
The new 1994 Australian contribution of 9,400 tonnes places Australia as one of the
major food aid donors to Cambodia and demonstrated Australia's continued commitment
towards assisting the poorest people in Cambodia.