Over 1,000ha of paddy fields in Banteay Meanchey province have been seriously affected by water shortages, according to provincial agriculture department officials.
Seang Vanseth, head of the provincial agriculture department, told The Post on Sunday that rice farmers in the province have managed to carry out dry-season farming on 45,000ha of land, which exceeds the original plan by 216 per cent. However, protracted drought since late December is causing water shortages.
“So far, more than 1,000ha of paddy fields, mostly in Preah Netr Preah and Phnom Srok districts, have been ravaged due to a lack of water sources that could secure it,” he said.
Vanseth said farmers in the two districts were previously allowed to supply dry-season rice farmers with water from the Ang Trapaing Thmar reservoir, but the practice halted last month after the government issued an urgent directive requiring farmers to save water and reduce their dry-season farming.
The directive followed a thorough study by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, which found that rising temperatures caused by climate change and the El Nino phenomenon would prolong the drought.
Meanwhile, some other water sources have also been temporarily declared off limits to dry-season rice farmers.
Phok Chit, Tean Kam commune chief in Preah Netr Preah district, said on Sunday that at least 800ha of paddy fields in his commune have been affected.
“According to our examination on site, those dry season rice fields will die completely in one week if there is no water."
“There are two big ponds in our communes but we could not allow them to pump the water from them to supply their fields because we are afraid the ponds will dry up. Meteorological experts have already confirmed that the rainy season will come late this year,” he said.