K Speu Farmers Fear Drought Will Cut Rice Yield

Drought is continuing to affect rice cultivation in the districts of Ba­set and Kong Pisei in Kompong Speu province with farmers in about 13 communes struggling to grow their crops, local government officials said Sunday.

Kong Pisei District Governor Chhum Vorn said about 60 percent of the district’s farmers were affected and eight out of 13 communes suffered from lack of water.

Many farmers were forced to grow rice in dry conditions and many recently planted seedlings were damaged because of drought, he said. Only farmers in the district’s northern communes had received a sufficient rainfall to flood their fields, he added.

“This year there will be a smaller harvest than last year,” he said, adding that his district was frequently plagued by drought.

About a quarter of the district’s families are usually forced to buy rice to supplement their food stocks, and this share would now in­crease, according to Chhum Vorn.

“They have to find other jobs and go to Phnom Penh to get extra money,” he said.

Baset District Governor Nop Kim­sreng said by telephone Sun­day that five out of 15 communes, situated in the east of his district, had been seriously affected.

“They could not complete plan­ting their fields because rice seed­lings were damaged [by drought],” he said, adding that farmers would replant their plots with seeds re­cently distributed by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Nak Vey, 50, a farmer in Baset district’s Nitean commune, said in an interview last week he had not yet finished planting his 2-hectare field because of drought, adding that his harvest had been declining the past two years.

“I changed to a kind of rice seed with a short growing time three years ago because of a lack of water” he said, “if we don’t use these seeds we can’t get any results.”

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