Rice en route to flood victims

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Flood victims will be provided with early-maturing rice seeds and supplies to help them recoup losses. Veng Sakhon Facebook page

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon will launch a rehabilitation campaign to assist people affected by floods in Battambang, Pursat and Banteay Meanchey provinces from October 29 until the first week of November.

The campaign will provide flood victims with early-maturing rice seeds, other crops and supplies to help them recoup losses they’ve incurred.

In a Facebook post, Sakhon said that according to an assessment of the damage to rice crops caused by floods, a number of sites may be able to start planting rice soon.

“The agriculture ministry will cooperate with the three provincial agriculture departments, together with sub-national authorities, to launch a preliminary rehabilitation campaign on rice cultivation,” he said.

He added that the rice cultivation campaign will start in Battambang on October 29 in Prey Klot village, in Rukhak Kiri district’s Prey Tralach commune. In Pursat, it will begin on October 30 in Boh Raing village, in Bakan district’s O’Taporng commune. In Banteay Meanchey, the campaign will start in the first week of November in Mongkol Borei district’s Rahat Teuk commune.

“We will set up at least five tractors, five bulldozers and three to four machines for flatting soil at each designated location in each province. That’s in addition to the provision of early-maturing rice seeds, and food for each affected family,” he said.

The ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture director-general Ngin Chhay could not be reached for comment.

However, Banteay Meanchey provincial agriculture department director Pang Vannaseth said that as of October 25, more than 60,000ha of rice crops were affected by the floods in the province. More than 10,000ha of cash crops, including cassava, were also affected while more than 200ha of vegetable crops were damaged.

“We are evaluating damaged locations in Mongkol Borei district and Sisophon town. The agriculture minister implemented measures to limit the effects of the floods. The first stage is [helping] those who have been badly affected first by the droughts and now the floods. They are in Rahat Teuk, Mongkol Borei’,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said during a visit to Banteay Meanchey on October 24 that the government had already prepared 2,000 tonnes of rice seeds of a non-seasonal variety to give to people affected by the floods. Each family who suffered flood-related damages will receive 100kg.

“For people who do not plant rice but still plant crops, the government will give six types of crops to plant when the water recedes.

“There is also agricultural machinery to assist farmers. Relevant ministries have to evaluate the damage caused by floods. We will only tackle issues for those who have been affected,” he said.

Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC) president Theng Saroeun said on October 25 that the government’s primary objective for the campaign is restoring rice crops, but it should focus on other areas of rehabilitation as well.

“Relevant ministries and institutions also have to be responsible for other parts to help restore and support people who have been affected after the flood recedes. They may also call for donors to help and restore people’s finances,” he said.