Cambodia’s rice yield for the 2008-2009 harvest is projected to be up 400,000 tons from last year to about 6.8-million tons of paddy rice, which is expected to create a 2.8-million-ton rice surplus, the Ministry of Agriculture announced at its annual conference Wednesday.
Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said that despite flooding and drought in some areas, good rains at the end of the rainy season meant that the rice harvest should be good this year.
The average rice yield is projected at 2.6 tons per hectare, according the Agriculture Ministry’s primary survey of this year’s rice production. Definitive numbers on the 2008-2009 harvest are expected in early January when most Cambodian farmers have completed harvesting.
Chan Sarun said that yields would be particularly good in Battambang, Prey Veng, Takeo and Kompong Cham provinces, where average yields were expected to be more than 3 tons per hectare.
The rice harvest has gotten bigger because more farmers are using better rice seeds, he said, adding that this trend was due to government efforts to educate villagers about the use of higher yielding rice varieties.
Yang Saing Koma, director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said he had expected the harvest to be slightly higher this year, but added that considering the dry spell from July to September in some areas, the harvest appears to be “not bad at all.”
The performance of the agricultural sector was “more or less the same” as other years, he said, adding that the government should increase investment in technology and irrigation to significantly improve agricultural productivity.
The government budget for agriculture in 2009 was small compared to other ministries and did not allocate sufficient resources to provincial level authorities for implementation of agricultural programs, Yang Saing Koma said.