Officials on Saturday kicked off a large irrigation project to provide water to farmers in Takeo and Kampot provinces in hopes of enabling them to harvest rice three times a year.
The project is part of an $82 million irrigation effort funded by the Asian Development Bank that aims to modernise irrigation systems in multiple provinces across the Kingdom.
Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology spokesman Chan Yutha said the ministry has begun to dredge and enlarge a canal carrying water from the Tonle Bassac river to support 40,000 hectares of rice fields in eight communes in Takeo province and two communes in Kampot province.
“The planned canal is large and deep, and we expect that after the construction, this project does not only have the benefit of bringing the water from Bassac River to Kampot province, [but] it will also serve as the waterway for boats in the future,” Yutha said.
Cambodia is trying to modernise its dysfunctional irrigation systems, which have left most of its farmland far below productive capacity. According to the Asian Development Bank, more than two-thirds of Cambodia’s agricultural land is not connected to an irrigation system, meaning that farmers rely mostly on rainfall to water their crops.
Yutha said the project, which is expected to conclude in 2019, should be able to increase the rice growing capacity of farmers in the area by 25 to 40 percent.