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Floods give slow start to rainy season rice growth

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Rainy season rice in Pursat province in 2021. VENG SAKHON VIA FB

Floods give slow start to rainy season rice growth

This year’s rainy season rice planting is going slower than last year’s as some areas received too much rainfall at the beginning of the season, which flooded the paddy fields and made it impossible for farmers to plough them.

The floods also damaged more than 10,000ha of already-planted rice crops to start the rainy season, according to a circular on the maintenance of rainy season rice in 2022 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon said in the circular dated May 27 that as of May 25, farmers had cultivated 502,799ha of land – or about 19.19 per cent of the planned 2,619,500ha across the country.

However, the figures at this point are lower than they were in the same period last year due to the issues with flooded fields.

He said that not only was rainy season rice cultivation slower this year, but constant rainfall at the beginning of the season had flooded 6,016ha of early rainy season rice crops and damaged 3,513ha of paddy fields in Banteay Meanchey and Tbong Khmum provinces – 4,664ha were affected and 2,380ha were damaged in Banteay Meanchey, while 1,337ha were affected and 1,133ha were damaged in Tbong Khmum.

In order to ensure food security and to uphold the policy of promoting the production of rice and rice exports by the government – especially to improve the results of the work of growing rice as planned in situations where there is a threat of flooding – Sakhon advised farmers to pay to inspect their fields and prepare them, especially to close dams and pump water out of the fields in cases where they are flooded.

“For upland farmers who grow rain-fed rice in the rainy season and have the custom of planting in July or August, they have to hurry to plough the land starting now,” he said.

Sakhon also urged specialists at the agriculture departments across the country to instruct the farmers on techniques for taking care of rice crops in collaboration with relevant institutions to assist subsistence farmers and vulnerable people who lack access to other varieties of rice to plant.

Tbong Khmum provincial agriculture department director Heng Piseth told The Post that as of May 29, the farmers across the province had grown about 41 per cent of their rice at the beginning of the rainy season of the planned 31,000ha. However, 2,471ha of land among the 41 per cent cultivated was affected or damaged by the floods.

“At this time, our team is inspecting and collecting additional data on the impact and damage to the rice crops at the beginning of the rainy season to evaluate and propose to the Cambodia Food Reserve System Committee which provides varieties of rice seeds to poor farmers who lack the ability to re-plant,” he said.

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