Although the Royal Plowing Ceremony held Saturday morning marks the symbolic beginning of the growing season, farmers and agriculture officials said yesterday that rice planting in much of the country has already begun.
Due to the early onset of the rainy season farmers are expecting a banner year for rice crops, according to Hean Vanhorn, deputy director general of the Agriculture Ministry’s general department of agriculture.
“This year, the farmers grow [rice] faster than last year, because rain is good and started early,” he said.
Mr Vanhorn said he had traveled to Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces this month and found farmers planting rice in every area he visited. The ample and early rains will also help those who grow crops such as soybeans, mung beans, cassava and corn, which can be easily damaged by drought.
Sim Thavirak, deputy director of the Kompong Cham provincial department of agriculture, said about 4,250 of the province’s 165,000 hectares of rice fields were already fully planted this year, up from about 920 hectares at this time last year.
Last year, farmers in Kompong Cham suffered from a drought in the middle of the rainy season, but Mr Thavirak predicted a high yield for rice farmers this year due to the early rains.
Dy Kort, a farmer and village chief in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district, said the majority of farmers in his village have already begun planting.
“About 100 of 170 families have planted rice seeds,” he said. “Last year during this time, we had not planted.”
Kuy Borath, a farmer in Prey Veng province’s Preah Sdech district, said the rains in his area had begun in late April, with heavy rains starting mid-May. He said he had not yet planted his seeds because he had feared a sudden late-dry season drought, but his fears had not come to pass.
“The rice fields are full of water like the water in a river,” he said.