The Kampong Chhnang provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology is speeding up dredging of a 3km canal channelling water from the Tonle Sap Lake to supply 4,000ha of rice fields in Koh Thkov commune, in Cholkiri district.
Department director Dok Bunhon told The Post on March 18 that the plan to dredge and widen the main canal started in February, and the work is 80 per cent completed.
“With this latest acceleration in our work, we are hoping to finish the job before Khmer New Year or at the latest by the end of April,” said Bunthon.
As well as the canal renovations, the department has also created a road alongside the canal allowing farmers to transport their products more easily. Construction of a dam to retain water for farmers’ use during the dry season has been completed.
“We expect that farmers in Cholkiri will not face water shortages during the dry season due to the improvements. The farmers might possibly be able to grow rice two times per year if the amount of rainwater from the Mekong River increases,” he said.
Climate change has caused serious water shortages for farming in the last decade.
Provincial Department of Agriculture head Ngin Hun told The Post on Wednesday that the amount of water from rain and the Tonle Sap Lake this year was lower than in previous ones.
Therefore, he said, farmers did not have enough water for their farming, especially, farmers at Cholkiri and Kampong Leng districts as there was no water coming from their canals.
“However, another reason for water shortages is that farmers have exceeded rice growing plans made by the agriculture department in Kampong Chhnang.
“This year, the department’s plan required farmers to cultivate on only 32,000ha in the dry season, but they have done so on some 40,000ha,” he said.
Koh Thkov commune chief Chin Phanna said Koh Thkov is a lowland commune which is not suitable for growing rice in the rainy season as 99 per cent of it can only support growth in the dry season.
This year, citizens in this commune grew 6,400ha of dry season rice. Some 4,000ha of their rice fields face water shortages.
“Recently, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology pumped water, dug and widened the main canal that connects Tonle Sap Lake to rice fields of Koh Thkov. However farmers usually faced water shortages to 1,000ha every year,” he said.
Bin Sophan, a farmer, told The Post that he would grow rice in the dry season on his 5ha field as the main canal would carry water from the lake to his village next year.
“For the past 30 years, I have only grown rice on 3ha during the dry season as there is a water shortage. I am glad the authorities are deepening and widening the canal from Tonle Sap Lake to our village. I can now grow rice on all 5ha next year,” he said.