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343,000 cultivated hectares wrecked by drought, floods

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Flooded rice fields in Sesan district of Stung Treng province in October. SESAN DISTRICT GOVERNOR SOVAN PISETH VIA FACEBOOK

343,000 cultivated hectares wrecked by drought, floods

Natural disasters have affected more than 343,000ha of agricultural crops during the rainy season, including over 248,000ha of rice crops that have been damaged by drought and 73,000ha by floods, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

On the positive side, the report on the progress of crop cultivation in the rainy season this year and the impact of natural disasters released on October 25 said farmers had achieved about 111.21 per cent of the cultivation plan.

Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon said that through the introduction of agricultural development policies in recent years, agricultural products had grown significantly and met domestic needs and have also been exported to regional and global markets.

“Cambodia in 2020 generated a total of $13 billion in agricultural products and exports amounted to $4 billion. For 2021, the ministry hoped that total agricultural exports will be more than what was achieved in 2020.

“More than six million tonnes of agricultural products were exported in the first nine months of this year, equaling $3.8 billion,” he said.

He added that Cambodia’s agricultural situation was still small scale and traditional and the global Covid-19 pandemic had affected transportation of agricultural products to international markets.

He continued that investment in the private sector in the processing of agricultural products was still limited. There were also barriers to trade in relation to phytosanitary requirements from buyers of agricultural products even though Cambodia has signed free trade agreements.

Theng Savoeun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, noted that the agriculture ministry still lacked a plan for seasonal natural disasters such as droughts and floods. They occur every year and destroy millions of hectares of crops.

“Natural disasters need to be dealt with head-on. All stakeholders need to find a solution to the problem to help people, especially with the cultivation of rice and dry season rice.

“People should be instructed in cultivation techniques and geography, where they can grow this type of rice. This can help people avert a lot of natural disasters,” he said.

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