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Banteay Meanchey farmers call for more water

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Drought-afflicted Preah Netr Preah district in Oddar Meanchey province on January 9. WATER RESOURCES MINISTRY

Banteay Meanchey farmers call for more water

Farmers in Teuk Chor commune of Banteay Meanchey province’s Preah Netr Preah district have once again called for authorities to intervene and pump water to their rice and watermelon crops, as the water in their canals and ponds has dried up.

Chim Hach, 62, a farmer in the commune’s Anlong Vil village, told The Post that more than 2ha of his rice paddies are about to sustain damage due to a lack of water.

Last week, they asked the commune chief to contact water resource officials to help open water dams to save their dry season rice, but so far no water has arrived.

“At this time, the water in the ponds, lakes and canals has dried up. If there is no intervention to open the water from the reservoirs soon, it will wither and die,” he said.

Similarly, Keang Bunnary, a 51-year-old farmer in the commune’s Samrong village, told The Post that 2ha of her rice paddies was turning from green to yellow. The rice paddies are gradually withering away due to a lack of water, as this season is unusually hot.

“Earlier last week, the commune chief told us not to worry, in a few days, the water would arrive. But so far there has not been any water in the canals, every single drop has dried up,” she said.

Teuk Chor commune chief Luch Phor told The Post that he had submitted a letter requesting intervention to the provincial water resources department on January 8. The department informed him that it had opened the dam in the province, but it was far away.

Also, he said, farmers in the upper part of the irrigation system had been pumping water into the rice fields to save their dry season rice, so the water had not yet arrived.

“After harvesting rice, the authorities told the farmers to be careful not to grow too much dry-season rice due to a lack of water, but they did not listen. Now, just two villages produce more than 300ha of dry-season rice, and the other two villages plant more than 100 hectares of watermelon,” he said.

“Both rice paddies and watermelon cover up to 500ha, so it places too much demand on the limited water resources that they have.”

The department’s deputy director Lay Puthy told The Post that he had contacted the water resources department in neighbouring Oddar Meanchey province to help release more water, but because the water must flow from the Atou River to the Kralanh River, a distance of about 60km, it may take four or five days to reach the commune.

“The water will reach the Kralanh River and flow into our main canal system. Please do not worry about water shortages because at the beginning of this dry season we have enough water in the reservoir,” he said, calling on farmers in remote areas to refrain from growing rice in the dry season because some will inevitably be lost due to water shortages.

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