The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology warned on Thursday that farmers in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district may only have enough water for the next three days.
Its spokesman Chan Yutha said rice growers in the district had attempted to cultivate grains on nearly 80,000ha – far exceeding the 7,000ha allotted – in an attempt to yield 10 harvests during the dry season.
Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries chief Seang Vanseth told The Post on Thursday that authorities had planned to cultivate rice on just 22,000ha across Banteay Meanchey province since the dry season began in late November.
“Although the Mongkol Borei River is rapidly drying, residents’ rice crops remain undamaged due to the water shortage. Meanwhile, farmers collected some 40 per cent of yields in the dry season rice as of Wednesday,” Vanseth said.
As a result, more than 7,000 families in Mongkol Borei district are facing severe water shortages amid forecasts of an extended drought.
A ministry working group inspected the site on Wednesday to check water levels, help pump water from other districts and install a pumping station to channel water from the Sisophon River to alleviate the water shortage.
Vanseth said: “Based on our [inspection], the Mongkol Borei River can only supply water for another three days. We are pumping water for personal use. It is not being supplied to cultivate rice during the dry season.
“I urge the public not to grow rice during the dry season and use water sustainably. The dry season is expected to last a long time.”
National Committee for Disaster Management spokesman Keo Vy told The Post on Thursday that 35,000ha of dry season rice paddies in 11 provinces, including Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Tbong Khmum, Kratie, Kampot and Takeo are facing a drought.
He said specialists from the agriculture sector were cooperating with ministry specialists to pump water in affected areas to steadily save crops.
Mongkol Borei district governor Roth Da Sinong said that more than 7,000 families in the district face difficulties, with those seriously affected by the water shortage being cared for at the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital.
“The most pressing challenge in future is the lack of clean water. This problem not only threatens more than 7,000 people but also the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital which treats hundreds of patients daily,” Da Sinong said.