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Banteay Meanchey rescues rice, warns of future droughts

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Banteay Meanchey water resource department officials pump water to save dry-season rice in Mongkol Borei district in January. WATER RESOURCES MINISTRY

Banteay Meanchey rescues rice, warns of future droughts

Officials from the Banteay Meanchey provincial water resources and agriculture departments have joined forces to pump water to nearly 1,000ha of dry-season rice in Mongkol Borei district in the face of water shortages.

Water resource department deputy director Lay Puthy told The Post on February 1 that since the beginning of January, his team has been working with agriculture department officials to monitor rice cultivation in Preah Netr Preah, Phnom Srok and Mongkol Borei districts, which cover more than 50,000ha.

“Through our team’s interventions this year, some rice crops are being harvested, while others are flowering and seeding,” he said.

According to Puthy, some farmers in Mongkol Borei have now begun their second crop, although officials have warned them that they may face losses in the event of a prolonged drought.

“As water sources in Mongkol Borei district are still significantly stocked, our teams have installed five pumps to help pump water into the main canal system for farmers to save their rice,” he said.

Mongkol Borei district deputy governor Roth Dasinang told The Post that this year farmers have planted more than 10,000ha of dry-season rice, which is 8,000ha more than last year.

“The cultivation plan of the agriculture department allowed only 6,000ha, but our farmers planted more than 10,000ha. Luckily, this year we have a lot of water left in the reservoir and in the Mongkol Borei River that we can pump,” he said.

According to data from the agriculture department, farmers in the province have planted up to 54,000ha of dry-season rice, while its plans called for just 20,000ha. During this period, however, more than 50 per cent of the rice was harvested by farmers.

Agriculture department head Pang Vannaseth told The Post that farmers were now enjoying their rice harvest, although prices had fallen slightly.

“In early January, farmers were concerned about a lack of water, but thanks to the efforts of the dry-season rescue teams and their pumps, they are no longer worried. Some of them have started growing vegetables,” he said.

Vannaseth added that the land in the province is sloped, allowing farmers to grow all kinds of produce year round. He called on farmers to use water sparingly, however, as there could be droughts in the future.

Chim Hach, a 62-year-old farmer in Anlong Vil village of Preah Netr Preah district’s Teuk Chor commune, told The Post that more than 2ha of his rice, which faced water shortages in early January, would be harvested by the end of February. He would not grow the second phase.

“Dry-season rice is dependent on water sources. My village is far from water sources, and I only managed to harvest the first crop with authorities’ assistance. I will not risk the second crop,” he said.

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