B Meanchey Fears for Rice Production After Floods

Flooding in Banteay Meanchey province has submerged 13,847 hectares of rice fields across seven districts, leading officials to voice concern that the province’s rice production could be in danger.

Heavy rains in mountainous re­gions of the province and across the border in Thailand have drained into lowlands over the past week, in particular from a major downpour on May 17, Provincial Governor An Sum said Sunday.

In the past six weeks, 20,000 hectares of rice paddy have been planted in Banteay Meanchey, he said, adding that the province is projecting 200,000 hectares being planted in total.

“I am worried about the famine situation for next year if the floodwaters remain,” An Sum said. “It could affect food security in my province.”

The affected districts are Thma Puok, Svay Chek, Serei Saophoan, Preah Netr Preah, Phnom Srok, O’Chrou and Mongkol Borei, he said.

Preah Netr Preah district governor Chong Thep said the flood left 3,000 hectares underwater in his district as well as damaging National Route 6.

“The rice paddies are underwater, so there’s little hope that we can recover [the planted rice],” he said. “We are still waiting to see.”

Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun downplayed the situation, saying it was not yet clear how much of the rice crop had been destroyed.

“There is a flood there, but the situation is all right,” Chan Sarun said.

He added that the ministry has approximately 3,000 tons of rice seed in stock for intervention if there is a need to sow fields again.

“We are prepared to restore the crop if there is a problem, but it is okay as long as it is still the early stages of rice cultivation,” he said.

National Committee for Disaster Management First Vice President Nhim Vanda said he was visiting flooded areas of Banteay Meanchey on Sunday to inspect the situation and prepare a report for Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Although other provinces have not reported serious flooding this year, he expressed concern that early rains might bode ill for major flooding in riverside areas across the country.

 

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