Kampong Thom provincial authorities said yesterday irrigation infrastructures in the province are still lacking, prompting a need for the development of the agriculture and water sectors to fulfil the province’s crop production demands during the dry season.
Provincial governor Sok Lou, during a press conference tackling the progress of the province held at the Council of Ministers, said the province shows great potential for agro-industry, including the cultivation of rice crops, rubber, cashew and cassava, among others.
The province, he said, has 261 water canals and four streams from the Stung Sen, Stung Stoung, Stung Taing and Stung Chinit rivers. However, Mr Lou said climate change has led to lower water levels in the Stung Sen River as compared with previous years. This has resulted in a shortage in water for daily use and irrigation during the dry season.
“The government previously built many canal systems in the province, some of which were later rehabilitated by the provincial administration. However, these irrigation systems are not enough, as they only supply water to about 62 to 63 percent of farmland. So, we have to expend more effort to give farmers increased access to water,” said Mr Lou.
A report from the provincial authority said the province has more than 290,000 hectares of paddy fields, accounting for a total yield of 900,000 tonnes; 70,000 hectares of land for rubber cultivation; 80,000 hectares for cashew and more than 50,000 hectares for cassava.
Water Resources and Meteorology Ministry spokesman Chan Youttha said the ministry has been working to expand the rehabilitation of canals, dams and other irrigation infrastructure to meet the needs of residents in provinces where such infrastructures are still lacking, including Kampong Thom.
He added the ministry has so far been working on the construction of a water reservoir in Preah Vihear province’s Rovieng district, which can irrigate thousands of hectares of agricultural land in Preah Vihear and Kampong Thom.
A plan to build another reservoir in Kampong Thom’s Sandan district is also in the works, said Mr Youttha. Both reservoirs have the capacity to hold about 600 million cubic metres of water.
The ministry, said Mr Youttha, has also been working with the Asian Development Bank for the construction of the lower Stung Sen dam.
Kampong Thom provincial Rural Development Department director Mom Chem said the rehabilitation and construction of roads in the province are also ongoing, both of which seek to facilitate the smoother transportation of agricultural goods.
In addition, Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Pen Vannarith said authorities have been encouraging farmers to cultivate crops without the use of chemicals to protect the welfare of the consumers.
“We have to work hard to produce organic crops to meet local and export demand,” he said.