Drought Over, Enough Rain To Plant Rice

Rains across the country are bringing relief to farmers in areas that were suffering from drought, allowing them to start planting rice, government officials said Thurs­day.

Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said the drought in Cam­bodia was over and all farmers had enough water to plant rice.

Nine provinces had completed about 80 percent of the planting work and nine others 90 percent, while in the remaining six farmers had completed transplanting rice to their paddies, he said by telephone.

Chan Sarun said his ministry had distributed more than 100 tons of rice seed in four provinces to support farmers hit by drought.

According to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Statistics Department, the total area under cultivation stood at 2 million hec­tares this week, up from about 1.6 million hectares in late August.

However, the current cultivated area is still about 7 percent less than the total area under cultivation in mid-September 2007.

Chhaun Chhin, governor of Takeo province’s Traing district, said villagers in his district had now started planting rice, but he feared an early end to the rainy season might still hurt harvests.

He said his district had re­ceived seeds from the Ministry of Agriculture, which had allowed farmers to grow seedlings.

Chhum Vorn, governor of Kom­pong Speu province’s Kong Pisei district, said rain had started falling in his area since last week and farmers had begun planting. With the rains coming late this year many of the rice seedlings in his district had died in early Sep­tember, he said.

Yang Saing Koma, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said the late rainfall would not significantly affect rice harvests.

Some farmers would have to transplant relatively old seedlings, which could give them a reduced harvest, as there was not enough time left to grow new ones, he said, but unless the rainy season ends early, yields should be more or less the same.


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