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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Heavy downpours devastate rice harvests in Preah Vihear

Heavy downpours devastate rice harvests in Preah Vihear

Official reports 520 hectares of rice seedlings lost in two-week period.

MORE than 500 hectares of rice seedlings in Preah Vihear province were devastated by flooding after two weeks of downpours in the region, local officials said Tuesday.

"Floods caused by rainfall starting two weeks ago destroyed about 70 percent of the rice seedlings on 520 hectares of land in Kulen district," said Yan Ran, chief of the Kulen district council.

He said daily rainstorms also damaged irrigation systems and destroyed more than 20 tonnes of rice seed in four of the district's six communes.
He said local authorities were planning relief for families that lost crops to the inclement weather.

"Currently, we are preparing about 20 tonnes of rice seed to provide to 350 families whose rice seedlings were destroyed by the floods," he said.

Kulen Choeung commune chief Chheng Chhoy said the heavy rainfall was just the latest misfortune to strike the region, which earlier this month experienced an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that killed about 30 cows and buffaloes.

"During the 15 days of rainfall, about 3 hectares of my rice seedlings were destroyed by the flood," said Yun Non, 57, a villager in Kulen Choeung village who noted that two of his buffaloes had also died recently from foot-and-mouth disease.

Villager Suy Yau, 36, said his family and other villagers relied on rice cultivation to survive. He said they would dig up wild manioc tubers, as they did during shortages in 2005, to get them through the year.

King Krida, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, said he had called on the relevant departments to provide rice seed and food to farmers in the flooded areas.

"We will provide the rice seedling so that they can plant again because it is not too late to plant rice paddies," he said.

But Chheng Chhoy said farmers will not have the chance to sow their rice paddies again because additional floods are expected in mid-August.

"This year some of the farmers in my commune will not have enough food because they won't be able to grow rice," he said.



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