Battambang province’s Agricultural Department and other relevant authorities are deepening two canals in an effort to rescue more than 8,000 hectares of rice paddy in Thma Koul district, which is in the midst of a monthlong drought.
Chhim Serey Vichara, the director of the provincial Agricultural Department, told The Post on Wednesday that early in the rainy season, there was plenty of water because of heavy rains, so farmers in Thma Koul and other Battambang districts began the cultivation confidently.
However, a week after their crops began to grow, the rain stopped falling, and it hasn’t rained for more than a month.
“About 8,124 hectares of rice fields have withered because of the drought and lack of irrigation system; therefore, the experts from involved institutions and local authorities worked to deepen canals and pump water to save the farmers’ rice plantations,” Serey Vichara said.
According to Serey Vichara, they have started deepening two main canals. One canal will flow water from the Stak Toek canal Bavel district that will serve four communes: Roung Chrey, Chroy Sdao, Boeung Pring and Anlong Run.
Another canal will flow water from the Kamping Puoy reservoir in Banan district for rice plantations in Bonsai Treng, Kouk Khmum and O’Taki communes.
Thma Koul’s district governor, Kim Vannak, told The Post that at the moment, the most vulnerable commune is Kouk Khmum, where 1,141 hectares of plantations might be completely destroyed if the water from Banan doesn’t arrive in time.
“At the moment, we are adding more vehicles to accelerate the dredging process so that the rice plantations can be saved as they can last only another week, or else they will be completely destroyed,” Vannak said.
Farmers and officials expressed hope as the water began flowing from the canal and reservoir.
Ly Chhing, 45, who lives in Kouk Khmum’s Khang Choeung village, said he hoped that the efforts will spare his 10-hectare plantation.
“At the moment, water has arrived and it is being pumped into the rice fields in Kouk Khmum commune . . . I hope that tomorrow or the following day, water will reach my rice field in the southern part,” he said.
Chhing appealed to all relevant authorities to build a nearby reservoir for storing water to use the next time there are drought conditions.
According to a 2015 report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, a long-lasting drought in that year resulted in the ruin of 15,954 hectares of rice plantations.