Cambodian farmers warned to prep for imminent droughts

A farmer plants rice in his field in Kampong Chhnang province in May. - PPP

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has issued a warning to farmers regarding forecasts of an upcoming drought. It urged farmers to prepare for the absence of rain, in order to prevent any negative impact on paddy rice production.

Citing a May 30 announcement by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, the agriculture ministry said that the entire kingdom could expect scattered light to moderate rain from June 1- 6. This favourable weather allows farmers to commence cultivating their rainy paddy rice crops.

However, it warned that drought conditions are expected to occur from July to early August, with a lack of rain also expected at the end of the year, so close attention would need to be paid to advance preparations to safeguard paddy rice production.

The ministry emphasised the importance of early cultivation for farmers with deep fields and access to irrigated water. By cultivating the rice crops promptly, farmers can ensure healthy growth and increased resistance to drought when the short drought period arrives.

The ministry advised farmers with rainfed fields to prepare their fields and strengthen their dykes to retain water for a longer duration, in order to mitigate the impact of the drought. In such fields, planting should be extended until the end of July.

To combat potential crop damage, the ministry advised farmers to keep spare rice seed on hand, in case replanting becomes necessary. Local authorities and other stakeholders were also urged to monitor water sources and paddy rice growth in their respective areas, while also preparing to intervene with pumps.

The ministry also called upon local authorities and other stakeholders to preserve their existing water resources, and urged responsible water usage to avoid depletion, as this could have an adverse affect on both animal husbandry and human consumption.

Highlighting the urgency of the situation, the ministry emphasised the need for local authorities to understand the impacts of drought, potential rescue measures, crop damage possibilities, and identify vulnerable farmers who may require future assistance from the government.

The ministry expected the cooperation and readiness of farmers, local authorities and provincial Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to respond to the challenges posed by these climate conditions, so as to reduce any impact on rice production.

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