Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on local authorities to advise farmers to cultivate dry-season rice once due to the dry spell and water shortage this year.
Speaking to thousands of workers at Chengdu Bayi Trade Center in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, Mr Hun Sen said that according to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, Cambodia will face drought and water shortage this year.
“I want to appeal to all authorities to advise all people not to do dry-season rice farming several times. Please do farming only one time this year because we do not have enough water,” he said.
Drought has hit six provinces and the Water Resources Ministry is taking action by digging wells, ponds and transporting water to directly to residents.
Ministry spokesman Chan Youttha yesterday said during a working visit to Banteay Meanchey province that the drought is not widespread.
“The provinces facing drought are Prey Veng, Preah Vihear, Battambang, Koh Kong, Kampong Thom and Oddor Meanchey, but it does not mean the drought is widespread and only some villages or communes are facing a water shortage,” he said.
Mr Youttha said the ministry and the local authorities are helping to provide water to affected areas by digging wells and ponds.
“In Koh Kong province, the department of water resources cooperated with the local authority to transport water to the villagers and in Prey Veng province, the ministry provided equipment to dig wells so that people have water to use,” he said.
He added that in Kampong Thom province, the ministry helped restore the Stoung river, which was drying up, by digging deeper to tap into an underground source.
Mr Youttha said authorities are also transporting water to the prisons at Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces on a daily basis.
He said they are also digging a pond near the Oddar Meanchey prison and a deep well near the one in Preah Vihear province to provide water for prisoners and residents in the areas.
Mr Youttha said that about 60 percent of dry season rice was harvested in drought-hit areas while the remainder of the crop does not need water yet because the rice will be harvested soon.
He noted that the farmers need the water for other purposes.
The Kingdom will be indirectly affected by the El Nino phenomenon which will cause temperatures to rise to between 40 degrees and 42 degrees Celsius in April and May.
Mr Youttha supported Mr Hun Sen’s call, saying that people will not face a serious water shortage if farmers do not cultivate dry season rice for a second time and instead conserve water.
“If they do not keep the water, they will face a serious water shortage,” he said.
Tuy Touch, a farmer from Takeo province’s Samrong district, yesterday said it has been difficult to plant rice during the dry season due to a lack of a permanent water source.
“In my village, there is no irrigation – I grow rice and that depends on water from a pond or a well,” Mr Touch said. “The pond still has some water, and I can use it for now, but it’s not a long-term solution.”
He added that people in his village tend to cultivate rice during the dry season, regardless of the water shortage, noting that he will stop cultivating rice and find another source of income.