Rice production declined slightly in 2015 due to drought in some areas, according to estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, but officials say this will not affect domestic supply or exports.
Cambodia produced 9.2 million tons of rice this year compared with 9.3 million tons of rice in 2014, according to preliminary data.
Hean Vanhan, deputy general director of general department of agriculture, said rice production declined slightly because of drought in some areas. However, there remains about 3 million tons of rice in stock, he added.
“It does not affect food security or exports,” Mr. Vanhan said. “In the first six months the ministry of water resource predicts that it will be raining less next year, so the ministry has alerted farmers to keep water to grow their crops, and not to waste water.”
Hun Lak, vice president of Cambodia Rice Federation, said that a lack of water had taken its toll on this year’s crop.
“The Mekong River water level did not reach some irrigation systems, so the production declined a little bit if compared with 2014. Overall the impact is from climate change, and it affected not only Cambodia, but also Vietnam and Thailand,” Mr. Lak said. “However, it does not affect exports because we produced a surplus of rice.”
Var Saroeun, a farmer who is a member of the Mongkol Agriculture Development Community in Battambang province, said that yields this year would be less than last year due to drought. “Rice yields are low this year, but we are continuing to grow rice for the dry season,” Mr. Saroeun said. “Yields are not only low but the price is lower than last year,” he said. Last year farmers received about $300 per ton and this year they are getting $250 per ton.
There will be little relief in sight for rice farmers next year, as El Nino is expected to again reduce rainfall over the first six months of the year.
“Cambodia was caught in between El Nino and La Nina for three months in 2015, but was not much effected by the drought. El Nino happened once in 2010, but did not result in as much harm as we expect in 2016,” ministry spokesman Chan Yutha told Khmer Times last week.
He said working groups were now starting to reserve water in 14 provinces along the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers into pools, to maintain a supply for farming across about 420,000 hectares in case of emergency.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/cambodia-slight-decline-in-rice-production-in-2015)