More than 2,000ha of dry season rice in three communes of Banteay Meanchey province’s Preah Netr Preah district are at risk of damage by a lack of irrigation water as canals dry up due to drought, the authorities and farmers said.
The three communes are Phnom Leap, Prasat and Teuk Chor.
Teuk Chor commune chief Luch Phor told The Post on January 9 that the water in the canal was shallow in many areas now due to hot weather and lack of rain. This put more than 300ha of dry season rice belonging to farmers in his commune at risk for lack of water.
“If there is no intervention through the release of water from the Kralanh River dam, the dry season rice of more than 300ha in the commune will be damaged,” he said.
According to those inspecting the site, the water remaining in the canal can be pumped for another week but after that the land will completely dry up, said Miech Samach, a farmer in the commune.
“At the moment, the canal is not completely dry and the rice does not have any problems yet, but it will be dried up in another week at the latest,” she said. “After the water is dried up, our rice will be damaged if there is no intervention to pump water to rescue it in time,” he said.
Prasat commune chief Meas Heuk told The Post that though more than 500ha of rice field in the commune were threatened by drought, no major damage has been sustained yet.
He said he already reported the problem to the water resources officials stationed at the Kralanh River dam to prepare in advance to intervene and open the gates to save the farmers’ dry season rice.
“At this time, water resources officials have opened the gates from the Kralanh River dam, releasing limited amounts of water as they must conserve some,” he said.
Similarly, concerns over lack of water were on the minds of farmers in Phnom Leap commune where more than 1,000ha of dry season rice may face damage from the drought soon.
“Without pumping water from other areas in time, some rice could be damaged,” said Phnom Leap commune council member Chuoy Keang.
Preah Netr Preah district governor Khou Pov told The Post that currently there is no shortage of water. However, he has ordered agriculture and water resources officials under the district administration to prepare to intervene by pumping water from Kralanh River and other nearby water sources into the main canal in the three communes.
He called on everyone in the three communes to use water sparingly in order to prevent water shortages during this year’s dry season.