After weeks of drought, heavy rainfall in several southeastern provinces may have prevented a severe case of food shortage that some had feared would leave two million Cambodians depending on emergency food in 2006, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said.
Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state at the ministry, said Sunday that the situation “has improved” and that enough rain had fallen for farmers in Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kompong Speu, Kandal and Takeo provinces to begin planting rice.
“I think there will be no problem with shortage of food. It is not a big concern,” he said, adding that more than 70 percent of the country’s paddy fields have already been planted.
At a National Committee for Disaster Management meeting held on Aug 20, Nhim Vanda, first vice-president of the committee, estimated that some 45 percent of all rice fields had been planted.
“If there is no rain by the end of August, millions of Cambodians will need emergency food,” he said, calling the situation a “serious problem.”
Uy Samath, director of Cambodian Red Cross’s disaster management department, agreed that the situation has improved but said the rain may not have come in time.
“The rain should start falling in July and August but now it has come in September so it may be too late,” he said, adding that too many farmers have been unable to plow their fields.
“The [farmers’] fields should be green with rice but instead they are green with grass,” he said.