Prolonged drought in the countryside has stalled the annual rice crop, provincial officials said Wednesday.
Although there have been sporadic rains—including a prolonged downpour Wednesday afternoon—persistent, heavy rains have yet to arrive, leaving the country’s rice paddies dry, officials said.
The delayed rains have also sparked a rise in upper respiratory problems for the nation’s children, Ministry of Health Department of Communicable Disease Control Director Sok Touch said.
The rainy season, which typically begins in May and lasts until November, drenches the country and floods streams and rice fields. It also pads down the choking dust. The absence of rain has resulted in a rise in complaints of inflamed sinus and other respiratory problems, Sok Touch said.
Kompong Speu province has been hard-hit by the drought, with slight drizzling bringing only a little relief, Kompong Speu Second Deputy Governor Phauk Sam En said.
Some public fields, 25 percent of which are typically used to grow rice, are completely barren, Phauk Sam En said.
A similar description was given by officials in other provinces.
“We are waiting for rain,” Prey Veng provincial Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Yous Mony said.
The temperamental rains have probably stemmed from El Nino’s southern oscillation, Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Secretary of State Y Kihoeurng said. El Nino is a reoccurring weather phenomenon that heats oceans, disrupting traditional weather patterns.
Up to 3,000 hectares of dry-season rice paddy could be affected if the drought continues, officials said.