Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and relevant provincial authorities to provide immediate intervention by supplying people with rice and other crop seeds to replace those damaged by floods.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for more than 6,000 university students in Phnom Penh on October 17, the premier also called on banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) to assist those affected by flooding by delaying loan repayments.
"Places where assessment has been carried out must have seeds transported to them immediately. In the areas in which rice can be replanted, rice must be provided, otherwise supply seeds of another crop so that they can recover from flooding.
"This is the way to best resolve the situation. Do not wait to finish one district and then report – assess one commune at a time and then deliver seeds to the people,” he instructed.
He urged the relevant provincial authorities to closely monitor the situation, while the agriculture ministry must act quickly in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Policy Committee – which includes the Ministry of Economy and Finance – to assess the damage and supply seeds.
"I recommend that all agricultural officials as well as local authorities pay great attention to the situation – stay close to the people on the ground and evaluate the situation properly.
“Sometimes the seeds will not grow. If this is the case, then the circumstances require the agricultural authorities to pay attention and intervene immediately, there is no time to wait,” he said.
Hun Sen thanked humanitarian organisations, including the Cambodian Red Cross, for providing assistance and rice to affected people.
He said the situation was not the same as with the flooding of 2020.
"In 2020, we made widespread intervention because there was flooded everywhere, but this year some areas have been seriously affected while others less so.
"So this year we are intervening for those seriously affected and suffering shortages. We are not doing it generally,” he said.
Hun Sen also instructed the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to hold a meeting with banks and MFIs to provide assistance to those affected by the flooding.
He called on all financial institutions to help ease the burden on affected borrowers by delaying repayments, easing interest rates or restructuring loans.
"Please understand the hardships of the people whose properties have been inundated. It is not correct that we go to confiscate their house or land in such circumstances,” he said.
According to a report by the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), 1,426 farmers in Kampong Thom province affected by flooding received 100,000kg of rice seed from the government on October 16 for planting when the waters recede.
On October 8, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an order to Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth, who was temporarily put at the helm of the agriculture ministry, to appoint expert officials to assess the damage to crops as soon as possible so the government could deliver rice seeds quickly to target areas after more than 700 communes were flooded.