Ministry assists dry season rice farmers

Ministry assists dry season rice farmers

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Officials use portable water pumps and heavy machinery to pump water and dig canals to save dry season rice in Prey Veng province. Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology

The government has supplied extra water to save more than 700,000 hectares of dry rice season crops in 13 provinces across the country.

Oeun Chantha, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said yesterday that for nearly four months, the Ministry has been supplying extra water to save farmers’ dry season rice crops.

But farmers, Chantha added, are the cause of the water shortage as they have increased the amount of rice grown to take advantage of rising rice prices, but the extra crops exceeded the government’s target causing a lack of water to irrigate rice paddy fields.

He said, however, that the Ministry will still assist farmers to save dry rice season crops, but some places are difficult for pumping equipment to access, and farmers compete for water without following the instructions of authorities.

“It is very difficult for us to pump water to save farmers’ dry season rice. In some places, water sources are limited and dry due to the El Nino effect,” he said.

Chantha added that to prevent farmers missing out on water, the Ministry will continue to build canals, reservoirs, maintain water storage facilities, and rehabilitate canals near water sources and pump water to save ricefields. However, the Ministry requests the participation of farmers and local authorities in using water according to the plan set by it.

Khim Finan, Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, agreed that the lack of water to grow dry season rice in the past was not caused by climate change or drought, but by high rice prices that encouraged farmers to increase the amount of dry season rice grown. That increase in the amount of crops put existing water supplies under stress.

He added, however, that the dry rice season rice yield this year was still higher than last year, despite some rice fields being damaged by lack of water.

“We see that the Ministry of Water Resource announced that there will be an El Nino effect this season that could cause water shortages for growing rice crops, but we’re waiting to see what happens, because sometimes the forecast is inaccurate,” he said.

He added, however, that the Ministry has also prepared plans to assist farmers reduce the impact of climate change, if El Nino affects the weather.

Prime Minister Hun Manet posted on his Facebook page on Saturday that the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has intervened to save the dry season rice crop by using water pumps and other equipment to pump water and dig canals to save farmers who have been experiencing severe water shortages.

He said that from April 1 to 18, the Ministry of Water Resource intervened to pump water at Prek Ta Tam, Kampong Leav and Choeung Toek communes in Prey Veng City, Prey Veng province by using six mobile water pumps to save 800 hectares of paddy rice fields in five villages.

From March 23 to April 12, the Ministry rehabilitated the 3,000-metre-long canal to draw water from the Boeng Sne lake to save 447 hectares of dry rice fields in Baray commune, Prey Veng city.

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