Floods Not to Reduce Rice Harvest, Minister Says

Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said yesterday that flooding brought on by storms last month had resulted in the loss of about 6,000 hectares of rice fields, while a total of 70,000 hectares of paddy had been flooded in 13 provinces.

The crop damage should not impact total rice harvest this year, which is expected to grow compared to 2009, he said.

Mr Sarun said the floods, which hit the northwest of the country throughout the second half of October, “inundated more than 70,000 hectares of rice paddy in 13 provinces. Banteay Meanchey province is the most affected.”

“The total destruction is less than 6,000 hectares of rice paddy,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on the EU’s rural development project Ecosorn.

“By Oct 30 more than 2,000 hectares were destroyed in Banteay Meanchey,” Mr Sarun said, adding that the province’s Malai and Phnom Srok districts were still flooded and were not included in the assessment.

The National Committee for Disaster Management said on Oct 18 that floods had destroyed 10,000 hectares of paddy and killed eight people. Total damage was estimated at $70 million–about half the cost of damage from by Typhoon Ketsana last year.

The minister said that despite the floods he expected the total harvest to increase over 2009, when 7.58 million tons of paddy were harvested.

“I am optimistic this year’s…rice harvest will be bigger than 2009,” he said, citing favorable weather conditions, increasing yields and a slight increase in the total area under cultivation to 2.36 million hectares.

Chim Punlork, administrative chief at Banteay Meanchey’s agriculture department, said officials estimated 40,000 hectares had been inundated in the province, 2,889 hectares of which were destroyed.

Floods “will destroy a lot more [rice] because there is still flooding,” he warned, explaining total damage would depend on the duration of the flooding in Malai and Phnom Srok districts.

Mongkol Borei district governor Y Long said 2,189 hectares had been damaged there. “It will affect the livelihoods of families whose rice crop was damaged. We are sorry for them,” he said.

Yang Saing Koma, director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, agreed with the government assessment of the flood damage.

“The situation is not bad like last year. It will not impact the harvest,” he said, also predicting a slight increase in the rice harvest.

Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster management at the Cambodian Red Cross, said his organization had completed emergency aid operations, handing out rice, noodles, plastic sheets and other goods to 1,762 displaced families in Banteay Meanchey. The government and other NGOs had assisted another 3,200 affected families in the province, he added.

“All the evacuees affected by the flash floods have been assisted,” Mr Sam Ath said.


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