Northwest Rice Crop Facing Water Shortage

Lower-than-expected rainfall in the northwest could have an impact on this year’s wet season rice harvest, an agricultural official said Thursday.

In Battambang and Siem Reap—two of the main rice-producing provinces—low rainfall characterized mostly by light drizzle has hampered the seasonal transplant of rice paddy shoots to rice paddy fields, officials said.

“If, within 15 days, the rain remains inadequate, some of the rice paddy fields will dry up,” Seng Chhoeurth, deputy director of the Battambang province Agricultural Department, said  Thursday.

Though some areas have received sufficient rain to soften the paddy fields to allow rice plant-ing, almost a quarter of Battam­bang’s 217,000 hectares of rice paddy have yet to be planted, Seng Chhoeurth said. Farmers are counting on more rainfall not only for the wet season crop, but also for next year’s dry season rice crop, Seng Chhoeurth added.

The Boeung Kamping Pouy reservoir, which has a capacity of some 80 million cubic meters of water and is used to irrigate paddy fields in the dry season, is only one-third full from lack of rain, he said.

“If water cannot fill the reservoir, the yearly dry season rice, planted on 1,200 hectares of paddy, could be stalled in the province,” Seng Chhoeurth said.

Low rainfall has also hampered planting in Siem Reap province, Tat Bunchoeun, Siem Reap province Agricultural Depar­tment director, said Thursday.

Just 50 percent of the prov­ince’s 170,000 hectares of rice paddy has been planted, said Tat Bunchoeun, who expressed concern that even the expected rain in September may not be sufficient for this year’s rice crop.

Long Saravuth, deputy director of the Hydrology Department at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said Thursday he could not predict if farmers can expect a deluge in coming weeks.

Fisheries industry officials voiced concern last week that this year’s low rainfall could have an impact on fish stock in the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers.

Fish were being deprived of hatching grounds as the low rain fall had yet to contribute to seasonal flood plains produced by both rivers and favored by fish as hatching grounds.

 

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