THE Japan International Cooperation Agency pledged US$4.4 million yesterday to help improve the productivity and income of farmers in areas along the Tonle Sap lake in Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces.
Yasujiro Suzuki, chief representative of JICA Cambodia, said at yesterday’s signing ceremony that the JICA-sponsored project would help the Cambodian government reach its goal of boosting rice exports to 1 million tonnes by 2015.
San Vanty, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that the project – which will focus on agriculture production techniques, seed quality and irrigation – would target 30 communes in Battambang province, four in Pursat and two in Kampong Chhnang.
“In the near future, agricultural productivity and income of farmers in the target areas ... will be improved through collaboration and implementation of this project,” he said. The project is to commence in September and last for four and a half years.
Cheam Chan Sophorn, director of the Battambang provincial agriculture department, said he hoped that by the end of the JICA project, the province would be able to “double or triple the amount of rice for export to regional and international markets”.
Meanwhile, farmers living in the three target provinces said yesterday that they were concerned about this year’s ongoing drought.
“I am concerned about not having enough water to supply to my rice seedlings this year ... because of drought and a lack of irrigation systems,” said Kuch Veng, a farmer from Krakor district in Pursat province.
Tan Soksan, a farmer in Kampong Chhnang’s Rolea Phear district, agreed that it had been difficult to grow rice this year due to water shortages.
“I and other farmers in my village have serious concerns about the lack of rains,” he said, and some rice crops had died due to lack of water.
Lay Pisith, director of the Pursat provincial agriculture department, said that officials in Krakor and Bakan districts have been forced to manually pump water into their ricefields in order to counter the effects of the drought.
Ngan Nany, director of the agriculture department in Kampong Chhnang province, said yesterday that recent rains had helped to improve the situation. “We hope that the rice seedlings of our farmers will not have any more problems,” he said.