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Farmers plead for pumps to fight drought

Farmers plead for pumps to fight drought

The people in provinces suffering from drought are begging the government to provide

them the irrigation systems, water wells or pumps and generators rather than gift

packages.

Keu Soy, 43, a farmer at Borsaeth district of Kampong Speu, the province most seriously

affected by drought, said there has been no rain in October or November and his rice

is dying.

"We don't want small gifts from the government. We want the government to build

for us the water irrigation so we can grow the rice and eat longer," said Soy.

Soy said poor people have no money to hire generators to pump water to their paddies

because it is too costly, up to 6,000 riel per hour, depending on the length of pipes

required.

Nop Phan, 49, villager in Peam Ror district of Prey Veng, said the generator he hired

for pumping was more expensive than ever due to the shortage of rainfall.

Phan said the generator owner charged 3,000 riel per hour; to water the rice took

at least 5 hours.

"Some families do not have enough to live on, so how can they afford to hire

the generator?" said Phan.

Bin Sareth, chief of agriculture office at Kampong Speu, said the rain stopped in

mid-October.

He said this year the amount of rice planted is 82,701 hectares (74.95 percent) out

of a target of 108,900 hectares.

"Only half of the rice planted can be harvested because the other is damaged

by drought," said Sareth. "We have generators and fuel but we have no water

sources for pumpng."

Sareth said the province had an emergency stock of 104 tons of rice; 26 tons were

loaned and 20 tons were delivered to starving people.

Thach Ratana, chief of agriculture office at Svay Rieng, said the province got some

rain in the last few days and more than 3,600 hectares were saved by pumping out

of 155,324 hectares planted.

He said the people in the province grow rice in both rainy and dry seasons. "We

encourage the people to grow vegetables and feed animals as well as planting rice,"

said Ratana

He estimated that for 2005 the three districts of the province will produce 11,000

tons less rice than normal.

Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the priority

activity of the ministry is to identify places most seriously affected by drought

and find ways to save them by pumping water.

He said the provinces most affected were Kampong Speu, Takeo, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng,

Kampong Chhnang

"Our concern is some areas have no water to pump for saving the rice,"

said Tong Yves.

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