As Thailand braces for a drop in rice production owing to rainfall shortage because of the El Niño effect, officials say that Cambodia is less likely to be affected by the weather pattern as they expect rainfall to cover the Kingdom this week, encouraging the planting of rice.
Chan Yutha, spokesperson of the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology, said a dry spell owing to effects of El Niño wouldn’t have the same impact on the start of Cambodia’s rice planting this year, with rainfall, once it begins this week, expected to extend until September.
“The rainfall is expected to be even better than last year.
This year, the dry spell which usually happens in July is also expected to not happen and heavy rain will start to fall throughout Cambodia from this week till September,” he said.
Whereas, the Thai government has asked farmers to postpone the planting of rice until August and is expecting production from the main season – the crop planted during the rains – to fall by 2 per cent, according to the Bangkok Post.
El Niño is caused by warmer-than-average temperatures in the Pacific Ocean causing changes in weather patterns and can lead to flooding, affect fishing populations and, in the case of the Mekong region, droughts.
According to a Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology notice in early April, average rainfall was expected to begin from April to June, but a revised estimate in May, pushed back the date for heavy rains to July.
According to Ngin Chhay, director of the Rice Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, 30 per cent of Cambodia’s more than 2 million hectare cultivation has already planted the rice crop.
“The ministry is pushing to increase rice cultivation area this year, and with enough rainfalls, we hope to receive better amount of rice output from last year,” he added.
The two per cent shortfall in Thai rice output was unlikely to have an impact on global rice prices, given the Thai government’s stockpiling of rice over the last year, said Kann Kunthy, CEO of Battambang Rice Investment Co.
“Thailand still has a stock of around 16 million tonnes of rice, of which they plan to release 10 million tonnes this year and another 6 million next year,” he said.
“I expect a stable price this year and even if it will increase, it will not increase much,” he added.