Experts Warn Farmers To Start Planning Now for Dry Spell

This year’s early start to the rainy season is raising concerns for the government and agriculture experts that rice farmers could be affected by an extended dry spell in July and a lack of rains at the end of the wet season.

“I am concerned about a long drought in the rainy season,” Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said Thursday.

“We notice every year in July there is drought,” he said, adding that untimely drought mainly affects the provinces of Kompong Speu, Takeo, Kampot, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng.

He added that the Ministry of Water Resources had informed his ministry that rains would end earlier than normal—in October rather than November.

His ministry was now advising farmers to use rice seeds with a short growing period, he said, adding that until now rainfall had been good and seedlings had transplanted onto 490,000 hectares, or 21 percent of all farmland.

Yang Saing Koma, director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said farmers should start preparing now.

“It depends on the farmers’ capacity to adapt and the local situation,” Mr Koma said, adding, “I don’t think it will affect everywhere. We have to have a good strategy to adapt to the situation.”

In general, the solution would be for farmers to transplant their seedlings now, he said, so that the plants can grow to be strong even if there is an extended drought in July.

Farmers should also have seedlings ready for transplanting in August or September, after the expected drought ends, Mr Ko-

ma said. He added that CED-

AC was currently advising around 90,000 farmers in 20 provinces in preparing such strategies.

Chhum Vorn Kong, governor of Kong Pisei district in Kompong Speu province, said farmers in his district were already suffering from a lack of rain.

“Only small rains. There is not enough water to grow seedling or transplant seedlings,” he said.

In order to plant the 16,000 hec-

tares of available farmland in Kong Pisei district farmers needed to grow 3,000 hectares of seed-

ling, but now farmers were only able to grow around 1,000 hectares and only 200 hectares had been transplanted so far, Mr Kong said.

Seth Vannareth, director of the Meteorology Department of the Ministry of Water Resources, said she did not expect the dry period in July—which is common in the rainy season—to last longer than other years, but added that she predicted there would be an early end to the wet season.

 

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