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Weak rainy season poses threat to Kingdom's rice

Weak rainy season poses threat to Kingdom's rice

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Women harvest rice in Kandel province last season.

Agriculture centre says that a sustained absence of rainfall could cause severe damage to thousands of hectares of farmland across the country.

THE Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) expressed concern this week that thousands of hectares of rice paddies across the country will face severe damage if the Kingdom's current drought continues.

In a statement released on Tuesday, CEDAC said that eight provinces in particular - Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pursat, Kampong Thom, Kandal, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and Takeo - have been most severely affected by the weak rainy season.

"This drought is a significant problem for Cambodia, especially for rice farmers," the statement said. "To help cope with this challenge, CEDAC is calling for some urgent assistance to farmers and other stakeholders."

Thach Rotana, director of the Svay Rieng provincial agriculture office, said that in his jurisdiction roughly 3,000 hectares of planted rice had been affected by the drought, with 40 hectares completely destroyed. His office is planning outreach efforts to help the affected farmers, he said.

"We are going to cultivate and distribute 15 hectares of rice seedling to farmers," he said. "We hope that rain will arrive by the Pchum Ben holiday [on September 18]."

Chan Tong Yves, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Tuesday that so far this year, about 40,000 hectares of paddies around the country have been affected by the drought.

"If there is no rain within the next few weeks, more rice will be affected and damaged," Chan Tong Yves said.

"We are collecting rice seed and gasoline [for irrigation equipment], and have ordered local officials to provide assistance."

Although acknowledging the current problems, Chan Tong Yves also pointed out that low rainfall levels are typical for this part of the rainy season, and that Cambodian farmers have cultivated 200,000 more hectares of rice so far this year than they had at this point in 2008.

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