CAMBODIA’S rice harvest is expected to reach nearly 8 million tonnes this year, the highest level in the last decade, according to a forecast from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries yesterday.
Although production this year was affected by droughts in some areas and flooding in others, the ministry said total output from 2.76 million hectares of farmland was estimated to be 7.99 million tonnes – exceeding the ministry's target of 7.3 million tonnes by about 9 percent.
Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said yesterday the gain in production was due to good rice seeds, an increase in dry season farming, a greater amount of farmed land and better understanding of farming techniques.
“We hope that this year Cambodia will have a better rice output for use than last year,” he said. In 2009, Cambodia grew 7.6 million tonnes of rice.
The ministry's provisional estimate for rice output in the 2010 to 2011 season is for 6.5 million tonnes in the rainy season and 1.5 million tonnes in the dry season.
The total rice surplus this year was forecast to be about 3.8 million tonnes, greater than last year's surplus of about 3.5 million tonnes.
The ministry said “natural disasters” damaged 20,815 hectares of rice crops this year.
Droughts affected 3,216 hectares, insects 219 hectares and flooding 17,380 hectares.
Po Sovann, president of Sre Khmer, an NGO which works in 12 main rice growing provinces across the country, said farmers had been more confident this year.
“This year, we encouraged farmers who have small plots of farmland to produce rice for the market, by providing [knowledge of] growing techniques and building small irrigation systems,” he said yesterday.
MAFF's latest forecast is higher than that released last week by the United Nations-backed Food and Agriculture Organisation, which put rice production this year at 7.3 million tonnes, up from its previous estimate of 5.9 million tonnes.
Cambodia's rice output last year saw 6 million tonnes produced in the rainy season and 1.6 million tonnes in the dry season.
Natural disasters destroyed 41,163 hectares of rice crops.