The dry season this year has already shaped up to be better than last year’s due to the continuous occurrence of unexpected rainfall that has aided with crop production and sidelined the issue of water shortages for irrigation, farmers and agriculture officials said.
Pok Ith, a 58-year-old farmer in Soeu commune’s Soeu village of Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district, told The Post that it was also because relevant authorities had intervened to repair and restore the irrigation system, including canals and reservoirs, in their locality.
“Due to a lack of water, most of my villagers did not grow rice or grow any other fruit crops. But this year, some of us are growing watermelons, pumpkins and sweet cucumbers, depending on the soil conditions,” Ith said.
Pang Vannaseth, director of the Banteay Meanchey provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told The Post that although some areas have no water sources and are far away from irrigation systems, the farmers in those areas were still able to grow crops due to the favourable weather conditions.
“Although some new water sources are now being dug, restoration and repair work on the old infrastructure improved the situation enough that everyone got some water.
“But farmers must not attempt to grow a second, dry-season rice crop because it can be damaged due to a lack of water,” he said.
Huot Chandararith, head of administration at the Battambang provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology, told The Post that although many of the irrigation systems have been rehabilitated and have more water storage capacity, the demand for water in the agriculture sector, services and clean water for use at home has been gradually increasing.
“For Battambang province, some areas in Moung Russey and Kors Kralor districts did not have enough water and had no irrigation system, but now we supply water to those areas.
“However, we have not yet encouraged farmers to grow dry-season rice crop in the second phase or other cash crops during the dry season because water in the reservoir is still limited,” he added.
According to Huot Chandararith, the province’s engineering team has built a system of irrigation canals to bring water from the Dauntri, Kanghot and Reamkun dams, which are now under construction, to the upper areas of Moung Russey and Kors Kralor districts.
Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang told The Post that relevant authorities continues to develop its irrigation system day to day.
“Some areas in Thpong district used to have water shortages in the dry season, but this year’s weather is good and so far no villagers have reported shortages,” he said.