IRRIGATION projects worth US$19.8 million have been approved by the government and should be completed by the end of the year, an official of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MWRM) said Monday.
According to a ministry report, 16 projects in 13 provinces will begin or resume in 2010, benefiting 28,105 families.
Chan Yutha, director of MWRM’s cabinet, said: “The projects, which use the ministry’s facilities and machinery, will be completed by the end of this year – if they are not disturbed by preseason rainfall.”
The projects are in Kampong Speu, Svay Rieng, Banteay Meanchey, Prey Veng, Battambang, Takeo, Kampong Cham, Kampot, Kampong Thom, Kandal, Pursat, Oddar Meanchey and Koh Kong provinces.
The report also stated that the ministry has approved another three schemes to be prioritised in 2011.
On February 3, Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the opening of the construction site for the Kam Haut irrigation system in Battambang province that the government will spend $310 million to build irrigation systems for this year and 2011 in a bid to boost rice exports.
Cambodia has 2.5 million hectares of land for growing paddy, but a lack of irrigation means farmers can typically harvest only once a year at average yields of less than 3 tonnes per hectare.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries estimates that Cambodia produced 7.2 million tonnes of paddy in 2009, of which 3.3 million tonnes was surplus and available for export.
Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, said Cambodia has the potential to match the 4 million to 5 million tonnes of rice Vietnam exports per year, if appropriate investment is made in infrastructure. Training is also essential, he added.