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Banteay Meanchey farmers call for water shortage help

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Banteay Meanchey provincial officials inspect a drought-affected area in Mongkol Borei district on June 5. BANTEAY MEANCHEY ADMINISTRATION

Banteay Meanchey farmers call for water shortage help

Farmers and local authorities in Soea commune of Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkul Borei district have called for assistance to pump water into nearly 2,000ha of paddy fields facing a shortage.

Commune chief Chea Ty told The Post that around 1,700ha of early-season rice fields in his commune are facing water shortages due to the closure of a main irrigation channel in neighbouring Battambang province.

The O’Sandan channel in Battambang’s Prey Khpos commune, in Bavel district, is under repair after being damaged by floods last year.

“As planned, the repairs will be completed in the next two months. But almost 2,000ha of rice fields in Soea commune are at risk of being damaged due to water shortages in that time if the flow from the main channel to our farmlands continues to be blocked. Our farmlands are in hilly areas and therefore at high risk of water shortages,” Ty said.

According to Ty, farmers have recently submitted requests to the commune administration for assistance from the Banteay Meanchey provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Water Resources and Meteorology.

The requests call for water to be pumped from natural streams and lakes into the main channel for farmers to use to irrigate their rice fields, and for the reconstruction of the O’Sandan irrigation channel to be completed as planned.

Lay Puthy, deputy director of the Banteay Meanchey provincial water resources department, said a working group had employed four 65-horsepower pumps to get water into the main channel.

He called on farmers to follow official instructions on rice cultivation during the rainy season.

According to Puthy, the farmers of both hilly and lowland rice fields have failed to follow instructions by opening up the banks around their paddies to drain water, regardless of the result, leading to higher farmland facing water shortages.

“Our experts are already intervening to pump water to save their rice, but we want them to follow our instructions as well.

“To ensure rice does not get damaged, those who have rice fields on hills need to know how to store water, while those with lowland fields should pump water out of their farmland,” he said.

Pang Vannaseth, director of the Banteay Meanchey provincial agriculture department, said no early-rainy season rice in any part in the province had so far been damaged by water shortages due to consistent downpours almost everywhere, even at lower levels.

However, more than 2,000ha of paddy fields have been damaged by flooding due to excessive rainfall in three communes of Banteay Meanchey’s Mongkul Borei district – Chamnaom, Prasat and Rohat Tuek – since the beginning of rainy season.

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