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Ministry of Agriculture Responds to Rice Farmers’ Concern of Water Shortage

PHNOM PENH: Spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Im Rachana, said that rice farmers can expect water shortages for the upcoming 2024 dry season. She said that while the problem is not limited to Cambodia, the relevant ministries and institutions have assessed this challenge and will facilitate access to water.

On January 5, Im Rachana responded on social media to a call for farmers to stop planting rice in some areas, like in Pursat Province, where the provincial administration called on farmers to stop growing rice in the dry season, leading to criticism of the government’s inability to supply water enough water to support the province's rice production as it increases beyond capacity.

"The resources [water] that we have are not only for growing crops, but must be shared for general use for those who need water in daily life," she said.

However, she said, the Ministry of Agriculture still respects the challenges of farmers. She said that the government’s relevant ministries and authorities will try to find ways to help farmers who lack water and distribute it equitably without anyone encroaching on water resources out of greed.

The spokesperson stressed that the shortage of water for use in the dry season for farmers is not unique to Cambodia, but that even Vietnam is struggling.

To avoid this problem, the authorities have advised farmers to be prepared to store water in ponds, wells, and canals for daily use and livestock.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, from February to early May 2024, the temperature will gradually increase and will be very hot in April to early May with temperatures between 38-41 degrees Celsius. While this is a normal phenomenon caused yearly by El Nino, 2023 was the hottest year recorded and climate change is wreaking havoc on agricultural communities across the globe.

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