Late rains have forced a delay in rice planting in parts of the country, with farmers planting around 20 percent less of the staple than during the same period last year, officials and agriculture experts said yesterday.
Chan Heng, director of the Ministry of Agriculture’s department of administrative affairs, said local droughts had forced farmers to hold off on transplanting their seedlings onto their paddies, adding that by the end of July only 1,119,759 hectares of rice had been planted.
“It is 330,686 hectares [23 percent] less if compared to the same period last year,” when around 1,450,400 hectares were already under rice cultivation at the end of July, he said.
Mr Heng said farmers in parts of Preah Sihanouk, Kratie, Takeo, Kampot and Kompong Speu provinces were suffering from a lack of rain, while the northwestern provinces had already received sufficient rain.
Kith Seng, undersecretary of state at the Agriculture Ministry, said some farmers were suffering from late rains, but added it was too early to judge its negative impact on annual rice production. “We cannot predict it at this time,” he said.
Yang Saing Koma, director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said he was unconcerned by the lack of rainfall as there was still about one month left for sufficient rains to fall.
“It’s not yet very late. It’s still possible to get a good rice production if the rains fall before the end of August or early September,” he said.
Mr Saing Koma said rain had fallen recently in some of the drought-affected areas, such as in parts of Kampot and Kompong Speu province.
“In the last few days I have seen farmers [there] start planting,” he said, adding he had also heard more rain was expected in coming days in some of the provinces where farmers were waiting to transplant their seedlings.
Mr Saing Koma noted that throughout Battambang, the province that produces the most rice in Cambodia, farmers had started planting due to early rains there.