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Severe drought takes toll on 40,000ha rice crops across country

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The irrigation canal in Banteay Meanchey province turns dry. Drought has destroyed over 40,000ha of rice crops in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and other provinces while water sources across the country continued to dry up, further threatening its survival. Supplied

Severe drought takes toll on 40,000ha rice crops across country

Drought has destroyed over 40,000ha of rice crops in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and other provinces while water sources across the country continued to dry up, further threatening its survival.

A high-ranking official from the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) said on Thursday it will be difficult to pump enough water to affected areas.

NCDM adviser Keo Vy told The Post the damaged rice crops were planted by farmers in May and June and farmers expected to harvest in August or September. But climate change has altered the schedule.

“Meanwhile, over 40,000ha of rice crops in Cambodia are in danger due to water shortages while another 5,000ha have been damaged,” Vy said.

He said the provinces most affected are Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Thom.

While these regions face water shortages, others like the Cardamom Mountains and Northeast Plateau have been hit by fierce storms, including three Sinlaku or small typhoons, which cause severe regional flooding.

Despite the deluge, farmers say rainfall density is still low and a reason for concern.

Battambang provincial Department of Agriculture director Chhim Vachira told The Post on Thursday that drought in the past weeks seriously damaged 17,981ha of rice crops in, Bavel, Thma Koul and Banan districts and 1,000ha were wiped out. Farmers are trying to replant.

“There was rain in some parts of Bavel and Thma Koul districts on Wednesday, but rainfall density is still low. It is a concern for us in being able to pump water to rescue rice crops,” he said.

Banteay Meanchey provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Pang Vannaseth told The Post in July that 3,030ha of rice crops in Mongkol Borei and Sisophon were damaged entirely and another 6,600ha in Mongkol Borei seriously damaged from a lack of rain.

“We hope that rain will save all these rice crops,” Vannaseth said.

Kampong Thom provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Pen Vannarith said on Thursday that up until August 4, farmers in Kampong Thom planted rice crops during the rainy season on 207,038ha.

This is equal to 97.06 per cent of the 213,300ha in the cultivated land plan, but a decrease of 8,260ha from the same period last year.

It is predicted that drought conditions will increase in some areas around Sekong River, Sesan River and Srepok River in the northeast part of Cambodia, a report by the Mekong River Commission (MRC), cited by AKP press on Thursday said.

The MRC’s Regional Flood and Drought Management Centre said there will be a severe drought in the coming weeks that will cause serious drought in some areas of Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Kratie provinces, said the report.

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