Around 200 families in a commune in Stung Treng province’s Sesan district are facing an acute food shortage after losing much of their harvest and food stocks in Typhoon Ketsana last year, a representative of the villagers said yesterday. A district official however, played down the seriousness of Sesan district’s food situation.
Pai Thnong Nhut, who said he represents villagers in Talat commune, said about 200 out of 752 families living in Talat had run out of rice, and another 100 families would deplete their provisions by September.
Mr Thnong Nhut said they had finished their stocks earlier than usual because the floods brought on by Typhoon Ketsana had wiped away much of last year’s crops and rice stocks.
“Two hundred families are lacking food after their rice farms were destroyed by floods last year,” he said. Around half of these families were trying to cope by selling livestock and collecting wild vegetables from the forest to barter for rice.
Typhoon Ketsana wreaked havoc in Cambodia last year. The government estimated that 48,000 families across 11 provinces lost their rice stocks and 62,000 hectares of paddy were destroyed, with total damage calculated at $140 million.
However, Sesan district governor Bour Keo Sovann denied the seriousness of the villagers’ food situation, saying it was part of the annually recurring lean season-a time during the last three to four months of the year when many Cambodian farmers deplete their rice stocks before the next rice crop is harvested.
“Every year villagers have trouble with food shortage for two, three months, but they go to the forest [to collect vegetables] or go to work for local companies,” he said, adding: “It’s not really a shortage of food.”