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Drought affects over 20,000ha paddies in Siem Reap province

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While coastal provinces are bearing the brunt of floods caused by heavy rain, many northwest provinces, including Siem Reap, are suffering from drought. Photo supplied

Drought affects over 20,000ha paddies in Siem Reap province

While coastal provinces are bearing the brunt of floods caused by heavy rain, some northwest provinces including Siem Reap are suffering from drought.

Tea Kimsoth, the director of Siem Reap provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told The Post on Tuesday that more than 20,000ha of paddy fields in the province have been affected and over 1,000ha ravaged.

He said the damage was caused by a lack of rain and irrigation systems.

Kimsoth said 175,720ha out of a total of 186,565ha of paddy fields planned for this year had been cultivated.

As of Tuesday, he said the drought had affected 20,867ha and damaged 1,045ha, taking its toll on a total of 24,019 families in 49 communes in the province’s nine towns and districts

The nine town and districts included Srei Snam, Sotr Nikum, Puok, Angkor Chum, Varin, Prasat Bakong, Angkor Thom, Kralanh districts and Siem Reap town.

“In Puok and Kralanh districts, if there is no rain within the next week, the effects and damage will build-up,” he said.

National Committee for Disaster Management spokesman Keo Vy told The Post on Tuesday that the drought is ongoing since early last month and affected numerous northwest provinces including Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Battambang.

“Rains fell only in some areas in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey due to climate change. Battambang had the most rains but some districts still lacked water,” he said.

Among the northwest provinces that continued to suffer from drought, he said Siem Reap had seen the most damage as the province lacked an irrigation system.

Vy noted that the committee had not collected all the data from drought-stricken provinces as its working group was still occupied tending to provinces affected by floods.

Siem Reap provincial hall spokesman Ly Samrith could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

But Sok Thol, the deputy director of the provincial administration, said Siem Reap had faced a dry spell with no rain from July to early this month.

“We have not expanded our irrigation system to some areas, such as Puok and Kralanh districts, making it difficult for us to reach them. In some areas, farmers have expanded their rice cultivation so there are not enough water sources to help them,” he said.

Suos Narin, the provincial monitoring officer for rights group Adhoc, said many farmers in Siem Reap were unable to capitalise on the province’s largest water reservoir.

“The [West Baray] reservoir can supply water to irrigate agricultural land in the province, but farmers have no means to tap into it. So they rely mainly on rain, and when there is no rain there is no water. Some existing canals also dry out,” he said.