The government issued a directive yesterday urging farmers to plant and harvest rice only during the dry season this year due to upcoming shortages of water and excessive rice planting in 2018.
The directive was issued after Water Resources Minister Lim Kean Hor told Prime Minister Hun Sen that farmers in some provinces had excessively planted and harvested rice, causing an imbalance in the overall production of goods.
In the directive, Mr Hun Sen said El Nino will cause unusual weather patterns in Cambodia, including temperatures going as high as 42 degrees Celsius with little chances of rain in April and May.
He said rice farmers should save water for day-to-day use and other crops other than rice.
Mr Hun Sen added that ministries and local authorities must anticipate water shortages this year by taking the initiative to save water.
“Ministries and local authorities must take action to conserve the water supply until we have constant rain,” he said, noting that local authorities should also be prepared to handle natural disasters.
Mr Kean Hor said yesterday that Cambodia could face water shortages like those in 2015 and 2016.
In anticipation of the upcoming shortage, provincial leaders and technical officers met in their respective jurisdictions to explain to farmers why they should conserve water.
Mr Kean Hor noted that the ministry found in 2018 farmers in the Banteay Meanchey province planted 47,212 hectares of rice field when they should have only 22,000 at most, while farmers in Battambang province planted 45,599 hectares of rice field when they should only have 33,000.
“Some areas produced excess rice,” he said. “Some farmers harvested rice during the last dry season and now they’re preparing to comply with us.”
Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management, said yesterday that Cambodia experienced massive droughts in 2016 and that it is prepared to tackle water shortages this year.
“Local authorities are preparing to store water and explain to villagers why they should conserve because we will face water shortages this year,” Mr Vy said.