An officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has urged farmers to quickly cultivate their land again in order to prevent further economic losses for themselves and rebound from this year’s widespread flooding.
Kong Kea, head of the ministry’s General Department of Rice Crops, said on November 13 that with the floodwaters having receded, the majority of farmers are busy cultivating their land again after their paddy fields were inundated earlier this year and their crops damaged.
As of November 13, the cultivation of 2,784ha in Kratie province by rice farmers is at 100 per cent utilizing over 281 tonnes of seed from several different rice varieties. Farmers have cultivated 93 per cent of 3,125ha in Tbong Khmum, and 72 per cent of over 10,000ha in Kampong Thom. In Pursat province, farmers have cultivated just 16 per cent, or 1,105ha, out of the damaged 9,321ha of rice crops.
“The industry and effort of our farmers show that they have strived to restore and boost their household income to contribute to a reduction in poverty in their rural communities,” he said.
However, in some areas the farmers are reluctant or hesitant to restart their rice crops again, saying there is still standing water in their fields that prevent them from using power tillers or tractors there.
Has Saline, a 45-year-old farmer in O’Kanthor commune of Kampong Thom province’s Stung Sen district, said: “I will start to grow rice and restore it later in November because now my paddy fields still have knee-high standing water. So now I cannot use a power tiller there to plough my fields.”
However, Kea advised that farmers could use mechanised pumps to remove the water from their paddy fields and then plough their fields to kill the grass in advance before they sow the rice varieties. He cautioned that waiting for the waters to recede entirely is a lost opportunity for a larger harvest, especially for growing dry-season rice in the coming year.
“If we delay growing rice and restore it now, we will lose more opportunities to grow dry-season rice. But if we start now, we will be able to harvest rice in mid-February and be able to continue producing dry-season rice that can be harvested between May and June 2023 without worrying about the lack of irrigation water,” he said.
Tum Niro, director of the Stung Treng provincial Fisheries Administration (FiA) cantonment, said that in the previous rainy season, floods had damaged 187ha of rice fields and damaged a total of 334ha of horticultural crops. But since Stung Treng is a plateau, the restoration of rice cultivation is not possible because the irrigation system to supply water there remains limited, he noted.
“According to the present situation, most of our farmers in Stung Treng province need vegetable seeds and other cash crops that can be grown in a short time with some used as a food reserve. They cannot restore their rice because there is no adequate water for irrigation,” he told The Post.