Farmers Welcome Rainfall, But Is It Too Late?

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.


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