More than 700ha of rice fields in O’Prasat commune of Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district have been inundated by heavy rains in the past week.

Commune chief Phum Bophal told The Post on July 28 that the flooded paddy fields have not sustained long-term damage yet, but certainly will if the waters do not recede soon.

He said 25ha of rice fields in the villages of Po Rieng, Rong Krabao and Kork Ampil were flooded, and so were 700ha at the Krakob dam.

As of July 27, the waters appeared to be receding. Bophal said the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology was restoring canals across the area, noting that residents near the canals had stored water in them to irrigate their fields but the heavy rainfall had caused them to overflow.

“We are now working to transfer the water from places which are flooded to those which don’t have enough water stored. Some parts of the commune have adequate water, some have none, and of course some are flooded, so it is a difficult balancing act to address each specific problem,” he said.

Chea Soben, a farmer in Po Rieng village, said this year he had seen his rice fields affected by floods twice. This time, he is worried about long-term damage if the waters did not recede soon.

“Normally, if they are flooded for four or five days to a week, they may be okay. If they are submerged for much longer, they will begin to rot – and our paddies are valuable fragrant rice varieties,” he added.

Lay Puthy, deputy director of the provincial water resources department, said that after the rice fields were flooded, the department had opened the bottom of the canals, which would allow the waters to recede so the people’s crops were not damaged.

“When the rains stop, the farmers block the canals to store as much water as possible. The sudden heavy rain caused the storage canals to overflow, so we have unblocked the canals. Soon the water will recede and the crops will be saved,” he said.

He added that the water resources ministry was working to dig out canals in order to release floodwaters from the Angkor Borei River, which floods every year. The ministry is digging out 27km of shallow streams, which will pass through six communes, from Chamnoam to Kouk Ballaing.

“We already have the canal, but it is dried out and shallow. We will restore it to a greater depth, and then it will serve the dual purpose of allieviating flooding and providing valuable water storage for farmers,” he said.