Floods and droughts destroyed some 67,000ha of paddy fields in the Kingdom last year, resulting in minimal declines to yields and land available for cultivation, the Ministry of Agriculture reported on Monday.
Ministry spokesman Srey Vuthy joined a government press unit briefing on Monday to report the ministry’s achievements last year and its plans for 2020.
Vuthy noted that last year, 67,000ha of paddy fields were damaged by floods and droughts.
“A lot of damage was caused by droughts and floods,” Vuthy said, adding that inconsistent weather also led to diseases and insects destroying cassava crops.
These issues reduced the land available for cultivation by 0.2 per cent and rice yields by 0.54 per cent, he noted.
Nonetheless, he said the ministry still encouraged people to carry out farming and the raising of livestock because the situation was not dire and their hard work would help boost investment in the sector and exports of agricultural products.
Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community director Theng Savoeun said the Kingdom does not have any specific methods to help farmers during droughts or floods.
Although floods and droughts could not always be predicted, Savoeun said the authorities should be aware of the ongoing issue and build more ponds and irrigation systems to store water during the dry season.
The ministry, he said, should also source rice seeds for farmers capable of withstanding climate change.
“When raising animals, farmers need to think of which ones can best withstand harsh weather conditions. Currently, Cambodia imports meat from abroad and the Ministry of Agriculture should educate farmers on techniques and provide them with equipment,” he said.
Nhel Pheap, a representative of a farmer network in Takeo province, said on Monday that rice crops in the province did not have good yields last year because of long droughts and floods in some areas, as well as a lack of irrigation systems for farming.
He said the price of pesticide and fertilisers kept increasing while the price of rice is not stable, leading to some farmers leaving to find work outside the country.
“I call on the government to give loans to farmers to buy seeds, fertilisers and other agricultural items to help their farming work. Plus, help us find profitable markets for agricultural products, and most importantly, help us construct irrigation systems because there are not many in Takeo,” he said.
The ministry said 2.5 million hectares were cultivated last year, with nearly eight million tonnes of rice harvested. Nearly 50,000ha of industrial crops were planted, 9,000ha less than in 2018.