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Army worm outbreak plagues rice crop in five provinces

Farmers use a net in an attempt to clear army worms off a rice crop in Tbong Khmum earlier this week. Photo supplied
Farmers use a net in an attempt to clear army worms off a rice crop in Tbong Khmum earlier this week. Photo supplied

Army worm outbreak plagues rice crop in five provinces

An outbreak of army worms – brought on by recent rains – is attacking crops in five provinces, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

A statement released by the ministry on Tuesday identified the provinces affected as Kampong Cham, Prey Veng, Tbong Khmum, Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey

Army worms are common in Asia, and each year they damage Cambodian crops such as lettuce, beans and corn.

The statement said that this year, because of the drought, rice crops were also affected. The hot weather acted like an incubator for the worms, and following the rains, the growing rice provided a source of food.

“The impact hasn’t been serious yet, because the outbreak is just beginning,” said Keam Makardy, field operation program manager for agricultural NGO CEDAC.

“But if farmers don’t take care of the pests, it could turn into a big problem.”

Makardy recommended farmers dig canals around their rice fields and line them with ash, which would kill the worms.

Kampong Cham agriculture department director Kim Savoern said farmers could clear vegetation, release ducks into the field to eat the army worms or use pesticide.

The latter, however, worked only one time and would not eliminate future outbreaks, he warned.