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Improve yields while the sun shines: NGO

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A farmer works in a parched rice paddy in Kampong Speu province’s Kong Pisei district earlier this month. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

This year’s dry spell could be an opportunity rather than a disaster for farmers, Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) officials said yesterday.

Although drought has destroyed several thousand hectares of crops in the past two months, Cambodia’s largest agricultural NGO is encouraging farmers to use the dry times to improve their yields.

“We want all farmers to see [the drought] not as a crisis but a chance to double their yields and income,” Him Khortieth, communication officer for CEDAC, said yesterday.

CEDAC’s president, Yang Saing Koma, said farmers should plough and collect natural fertilisers to prepare their fields for end-of-season rains.

“Farmers should not feel hopeless, but should start to grow rice and other crops,” Koma said.

“The rainy season will continue for about two more months,” he said, adding that during this time, farmers should supplement their rice yields with other crops like sweet potatoes.

The advice extends beyond this year, Khortieth said, pointing out that most rainy seasons have a dry spell in the middle.

Ou Ith, a farmer in Banteay Meancheay’s Thma Puok district, who had planned to find work in Thailand after his rice crop was hit by drought, said he will now grow another crop.

“My family relies on the rice crops so we will grow another in the last of this rainy season,” he said. Khortieth said the advice applies more to upland areas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at sophakchakrya.khouth@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Justine Drennan

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