As of July 24, 77.05 per cent of this year’s rainy season rice cultivation had been achieved, with more that two million of the planned 2.6 million hectares of paddies planted, according to a senior agriculture official.

Kong Kea, director-general of rice crops at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that this year’s production was down on the same point last year, largely due to weather conditions. Heavy rain since mid-April had flooded many fields and prevented farmers from using their ploughing harvesting machinery.

“Our inspections have revealed that although cultivation this year is little slow, the rice crop is growing well – we expect higher yields than last year. People are mostly growing fragrant rice,” he said.

According to Kea, the ministry has been encouraging farmers to grow luxury rice cultivars – such as Sen Pidor, Sen Kra’op (SKO) fragrant rice, Romduol, Romdeng (Galangal), Romeat (Turmeric) and Malis (Jasmine) – to ensure the sustainability of food and support the export of rice to foreign markets.

Sen Pidor and SKO are non-seasonal rice cultivars that are resistant to all weathers and other pollutants, and can be grown in high-altitude rice fields that do not hold much water.

Romduol, Romdeng, Romeat and Malis are seasonal varieties, grown only in deep fields in the rainy season because they can withstand water for a long time. Each of these varieties can yield between 3.5 and 5.5 tonnes per hectares, depending on fertiliser application.

Kea called on the farmers who have not yet started planting to begin as soon as possible, citing the World Food Programme’s declaration of global food shortages due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“The crisis between Russia and Ukraine is strongly affecting global food security, but this is conversely a great opportunity for us. The more Cambodia produces, the better it is. I want all farmers to concentrate on rice production. Do not leave any fields bare, we don’t want to buy rice from overseas when we have perfectly good fields right here in the Kingdom,” he said.

Chheav Hong, a 65-year-old farmer in Samrong commune’s Samrong Khang Tbong village of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district, told The Post that his family had grown Sen Pidor rice on 3ha of land.

“In my village, we grow the Sen Pidor cultivar in the dry season and early rainy season. In the heaviest part of the rainy season, in late July or early August, we plant Romduol because it can handle being submerged for a long time,” he said.

Hong said he uses heavy machinery to plough, cultivate and harvesting his rice. He uses a tractor for most of the work, and also owns straw rollers and rice husking machinery, which he rents to members of his community when he is not using them.