Despite Rain, Drought Persists in Many Areas

Disaster officials say farmers in some parts of the country will have to abandon the wet season rice crop altogether because of the drought, but recent rains in other areas have saved some harvests.

Rainfalls in Kompong Speu, Takeo, Kandal, Kratie, Siem Reap, Kompong Thom and Prey Veng provinces, and Sihanouk­ville and Kep municipalities have re­vived many nearly-dead rice seedlings, which will allow for their transplantation, Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said on Wednesday.

Even in these provinces, however, the overall level of rainwater is still “critically low,” he said.

Officials have determined that the areas suffering worst from the lack of water are Thma Puok and Svay Chek districts and Poipet town, in Banteay Mean­chey prov­ince, and Veal Veng and Phnom Kravanh districts of Pursat.

Farmers there, Nhim Vanda said, should give up on long-term rice production and focus on short-term, stopgap cultivation, in which seedlings are grown in place rather than transplanted.

Only about 600,000 hectares, less than a third of the country’s more than 2.1 million hectares of farmland, have been cultivated, he said. The government has already sent more than 1,000 tons of rice and tens of thousands of liters of gasoline to the countryside, and the Ministry of Agriculture has 2,600 tons of rice seeds to distribute to farmers for the important dry-season crop.

Political parties have been transporting water and delivering rice for the people. “In this situation, whoever comes to help the poor is welcomed,” Takeo Gover­nor Kep Chutema said. Takeo Governor Kep Chutema said just 9 percent of the more than 163,000 hectares of farmland in his province had been cultivated.

In addition to lacking water for farming, he said, people were short of drinking water.

Government meteorologist Sith Vannareth said most of the country is overcast but not rainy. Heavy rains should come in September and October, she said.


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