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Heavier rains raising big hopes for bumper early-season rice crop

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Farmers are sowing rice seeds in a rice field in Prey Veng province last month. Hean Rangsey

Heavier rains raising big hopes for bumper early-season rice crop

This year’s early-season rice harvest is expected to yield a bumper crop for farmers as of the end of July. Rice has been sown on more than 97 per cent of the total planned 2.6 million hectares, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.

Sakhon said more than 99 per cent of farmers used machinery instead of cattle for ploughing, which reduced labour time for cultivation and improved soil quality. Machinery was used to plough 2,535,022ha of land, equivalent to 99.38 per cent of the total, while the remainder was ploughed with cattle.

“As of July 30, sowing and transplanting of early-season rice has reached more than 2.4 million hectares of the 2.6 million hectares planned. It is 166,136ha more than last year,” he said in a Facebook post.

He said the planting of early-season rice cultivars reached 123,173ha, or 5.02 per cent of the total cultivated area, so far.

Farmers also cultivated horticultural crops and short-term industrial crops to meet the daily needs of their families.

Short-term horticultural crops, including white corn and sweet potatoes, were planted on 48,207ha, or 87.70 per cent of the planned 54,966ha, which is 1,335ha less than last year.

Short-term industrial crops, such as red corn, cassava and soybeans, covered 731,307ha, or 89.22 per cent of the planned 819,629ha. This is 2,127ha more than last year.

Farmers claim that the remarkable result is due to increased rainfall compared to previous years.

Khieu Lom Ang, a 45-year-old farmer in Battambang province’s Sangke district, told The Post that so far his 5ha of early-season rice has grown well and can be harvested by the end of August.

“My family has never had a shortage of rice because, in general, we produce an average of 4.5 to 5.3 tonnes of rice per hectare. In one season, we plant rice at the beginning of the season and at the end of the season,” he said.

According to Lom Ang, the rice she grows is a type of early maturing rice that only needs 80 to 85 days to grow and does not need much water, but it needs proper weeding and fertilising .

Chhim Vachira, director of the Battambang provincial agriculture department, said that as of August 2, rice cultivation in his province had achieved more than 270,000ha of a total of over 320,000ha set aside for planting. It is also 60,000ha more than last year.

“However, by the end of August or the beginning of September, our farmers will be able to plant 100 per cent or more of planned crops because by that time the rainfall will have eased and there will be enough water to grow more crops,” he said.

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