The dry-season rice crop this year of more than 600,000ha has exceeded the planned goal by over 200,000ha, or 137.39 per cent of the original total of just over 400,000ha.

The excess of more than 200,000ha has yielded a million tonnes of rice with an annual average of 4.41 tonnes per hectare, according to a February report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries seen by The Post on March 9.

The report, dated March 5, said until now, the output of dry-season rice has achieved 630,883ha or 137.39 per cent of the planned 459,200ha. The harvesting of an extra 247,089ha totals 1,090,334 tonnes of dry-season rice, an average yield of 4.41 tonne per hectare.

“The production of dry-season rice was achieved from 630,964ha of ploughed land. Of the number, 4,257ha [about 0.67 per cent] were ploughed by cattle and 626,707ha [about 99.33 per cent] by machinery,” the report said.

The ministry also encouraged all agricultural specialists to pay attention and to intervene when there is damage due to natural disasters, vermin, and other diseases affecting crops. The specialists have to be ready to work when farmers suffer an impact.

In a Facebook page on March 5, minister Veng Sakhon said although Cambodia and other countries in the Mekong River Basin had encountered challenging problems such as the high levels of the Mekong River during the rainy season last year, it has led to some provinces growing a lot more rice crops.

“After inspection, specialists saw that five of 25 provinces have grown more dry-season rice crops than others. They include Prey Veng, which achieved 111,279ha of dry-season crops; Takeo, 107,377ha; Kampong Thom, 76,956ha; Kandal, 55,047ha; and Banteay Meanchey at 50,511ha,” he said.

The General Directorate of Agriculture forecast that the total dry-season rice harvest this year which ends in April could be more than 2.6 million tonnes.

Agricultural expert Yang Saing Koma said that while growing dry-season rice crops, Cambodians had experienced three major challenges: water shortages, prices and costs.

“I have noticed that the first is water problems. I mean that sometimes they [farmers] have sufficient water, and sometimes they don’t because in some areas water is limited. The second is price issue. Prices are a systemic problem. I mean it is harvested immediately and needs to be sold immediately. So, it is hard to collect the yields. The third involves production costs. I have seen that they have spent very much,” he said.