Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dwindling water supplies put dry-season rice haul in danger

Dwindling water supplies put dry-season rice haul in danger

Dwindling water supplies put dry-season rice haul in danger

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Dry-season rice farmers in some areas west of the Tonle Sap River and in eastern provinces are appealing to the government for help as the reservoirs they rely on for irrigation are drying up faster than usual, farmers and officials said yesterday.

Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
San Vanty (centre), undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, speaks during a meeting with the Japan International Cooperation Agency yesterday in Phnom Penh.

Officials at the ministries of water resources and agriculture also said they were intervening quickly to provide pumps so that water could be pumped into rice fields.

San Vanty, under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told the Post that more than 20,000 hectares of dry-season rice fields were lacking water.

He said that his ministry and the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology had sent teams to pump water into the rice fields following requests from farmers. “So far, more than 10,000 hectares of paddy were saved,” he said.

Some farmers in Battambang province, however, say they face the loss of their crop if it does not rain soon because the reservoirs they rely on for irrigation have dried up.

Pen Heng, 65, who has a one hectare plot for dry-season rice in Sangke district, said his crop is in danger. “If it does not rain in the next few weeks, my rice will be lost,” he said.

Pen Heng appealed to the government and NGOs to build reservoirs and irrigation systems in his district, because there is a shortage of irrigation there and farmers remain dependent on rain. “We want to produce crops two to three times per year in order to meet the government’s target of exporting one million tonnes of rice in 2015,” he said, adding that this would be impossible if farmers remained reliant on rainfall.

Meanwhile, experts from the Agriculture Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency met yesterday to discuss a project for improving the yields and rice quality in three provinces west of the Tonle Sap. The four-and-a-half year project focuses on technical training for farmers in Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Chnnang provinces, including seed certification.

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