Cambodia is on track to exceed its rice-production targets for 2010 despite torrential rain and flash flooding that inundated large parts of the country last month.
Speaking on the sidelines of a rural development forum in Phnom Penh, Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said he was “optimistic” this year’s output of paddy would top last year’s total by about 70,000 hectares.
“I am pleased to say that although Cambodia has been affected by the floods recently, it has not affected our rice,” he said.
“Instead, the number of our rice products will be higher than last year because we have been planting more rice fields than we planned to.”
He said the ministry had originally planned to plant roughly 2.28 million hectares of rice fields, but had actually planted 2.39 million hectares.
Flooding, which began on October 10, affected about 70,000 hectares of rice fields and destroyed 6,000 in 13 cities and provinces, he said, citing a preliminary report received by his ministry.
Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, said the effect of the flooding on this year’s rice crop had been small.
“I think that the floods have not seriously affected Cambodia’s rice paddy,” he said.
“ So I agreed with the Minister of Agriculture that rice will be good and its production will increase this year.”
Keo Vy, director of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said unofficial statistics indicated that 4,553 hectares of additional crops – including cassava, sesame and soybeans – had been affected, and that some 10,000 hectares of rice fields had been destroyed, a figure higher than that offered by Chan Sarun.
He added that the report including the statistics had not been finalised.
In addition to crops, the floods had affected 30,355 homes, and six people had died, he said.
A total of nine deaths have been recorded unofficially.