While most of the country remains plagued by drought, this year’s wet season officially arrived April 27, a week and a half earlier than last year, the government’s chief meteorologist said Sunday.
“Rain this month will be sporadic and mainly in the southern part near the seas and near the mountains in the north,” Seth Vannareth said, adding that heavy rains are forecast to begin in early June.
“The department predicts that this year there will be more rain than in 2004 but less than year 2000, which had the most,” she said.
Seth Vannareth said farmers should begin planting rice early this year and monitor provincial weather forecasts.
Rain fell Sunday in the provinces of Kompong Cham, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, and Koh Kong and in Phnom Penh.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday said Cambodia is facing its worst drought in recent memory and prayed for rain at a pagoda inauguration in Kandal province.
“This year is the worst,” Hun Sen said. “This government’s mandate is the ‘irrigation’ mandate, but the Devada is testing the government’s ability.”
Hun Sen that said even though the country has faced many years of drought—in 1985, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001—this year is the worst.
“At this point it is the biggest problem confronting our people,” he said. “Now, today, we all pray together for the rain to drop.”
According to Ministry of Agriculture data released in April, only 3.1 million tons of wet-season rice were harvested in 2004, down from 3.8 million tons in 2003. Drought destroyed 260,027 hectares out of 2.05 million planted with wet-season rice. Kompong Cham, Kompong Speu and Mondolkiri provinces had the highest percentages of crop loss in the nation.
Last month, the World Food Program began distributing 1,500 tons of emergency rice rations to 150,000 hungry villagers. The WFP said there will be 500,000 Cambodians short on food this year.