The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has released a circular for officials to restore crops damaged by recent floods. The circular included measures to increase rice harvests during the rainy season and preparing for the dry season.

In the two-page circular, minister Veng Sakhon said most of Cambodia has experienced rainfall since the beginning of this year’s rainy season. He said the conditions are good for growing rice and achieving quick results.

Sakhon added that as of November 11, farmers throughout the country had transplanted or sown rice on 2.79 million hectares of the planned 2.59 million hectares, or seven per cent ahead of the target.

The circular said droughts and floods had damaged 127,121ha of rice crops throughout the country. The government distributed more than 6,400 tonnes of rice seeds and other types of vegetable seeds for farmers in 19 provinces affected by floods to ensure food security, keep rice exports afloat and rejuvenate damaged crops.

For the rainy season, which will end soon, Sakhon told officials to observe and educate farmers who receive seeds about their technical uses, plantation technique, crop care and pollutant removal. For higher altitude locations with a lack of water sources, people have to shift from planting rice to planting other crops, he said.

Officials have also been instructed to cooperate with relevant ministries, local authorities and national and international partners to set favourable areas and encourage people to plant crops there, according to the circular.

Officials have to set places with water sources to find ways to pump water into reservoirs and canal systems to ensure water support for agricultural crops. They also have to advise farmers on how to keep water for rice care and check their techniques using harvesting machines.

For growing rice in the dry season, Sakhon called on officials and citizens to pay attention in using water and encourage farmers to select rice seeds that are suitable for all seasons and have shorter growing periods.

Sakhon said: “Farmers have to regularly check, take care of, fertilise and protect the rice that has been planted already. They have to remove grasses, maintain enough water and check the condition of eliminating pests and diseases,” he said.

Banteay Meanchey provincial agriculture department director Pang Vannaseth said on November 16 that he had prepared measures suggested in the circular.

Banteay Meanchey was one of the provinces affected by floods in October. While water in various districts has receded, some districts are still flooded, such as Preah Netr Preah and Phnom Srok.

Farmers typically start growing rice in the dry season in November. Because of the recent floods, farmers have not yet planted their rice.

Vannaseth said: “We prepared [these measures] already and we will follow the plan. What I am concerned about is water shortages. We went to advise people because they like to grow rice using machines and they do not estimate water demands. There could be a water shortage at the end of the season.”

In general, people in one district in Banteay Meanchey are estimated to plant rice during the dry season on about 8,000ha. But in some cases, they plant on up to 30,000ha, Vannaseth added.