A MINISTRY of Water Resources and Meteorology official told The Post on Monday that the government built 2,483 irrigation systems last year, which have supplied water to more than 1,835,422ha of rice fields among nearly three million hectares of farmland.
Ministry spokesperson Chan Yutha said in a press conference at the Council of Ministers on Monday, that most areas facing water shortages are new regions located furthest from any water sources.
Irrigation systems in the Kingdom currently provide water to 62 per cent of its rice fields. The ministry plans to build more irrigation systems near the borderlines, he said.
“Battambang province has large irrigation systems, but they still do not fulfil all the water needs in the province.
“People who live near irrigation systems are likely to benefit from them, but not those who live far away,” said Yutha.
In some cases, the ministry and relevant institutions had delivered water by trucks to regions which were not connected to irrigation systems. However, he said this was only in exceptional circumstances.
While there will be water shortages this year, the ministry predicts it will not reach crises levels. He said the ministry will continue to cooperate with other countries and development partners to further improve irrigation systems along the borders.
“The Ministry has improved irrigation systems along borderlines. Irrigation systems in the eastern parts stretching out to Svay Rieng province have already been built.
“We are also studying plans to widen Canal 78 which supplies water from Bassac River to Kampot, Kandal and Takeo provinces.
“Water from O’Romi in Ratanakkiri province supplies Kratie, Stung Treng, Svay Rieng and Prey Veng provinces.
“In regards to the Cambodia-Thai border checkpoint, the ministry is working in collaboration with Korea on a project in Banteay Meanchey province, which aims to better supply the region.
Agricultural officer Bat Sovann said improving irrigation systems is a positive step towards better supplying Khmer citizens who are threatened by water shortages annually.
“Improved irrigation would be great for farmers, especially in the dry season. It is not a problem in the rainy season as the people can farm as normal. But in dry the season, people cannot overcome the water shortages and are forced to find work elsewhere,” he said.
Sovann expects that the people will participate in maintaining old and new irrigation systems built by the government as it is of mutual benefit to them.