Severe drought hits Cambodia's rice planting
Planetark.org,Aug. 6 2002
PHNOM PENH - Cambodia's worst drought in 20 years has damaged thousands of hectares of newly planted rice in several provinces and the lack of rain continues to threaten crops elsewhere, officials said on Monday.
Nhim Vanda, vice-chairman of the National Disaster Committee, said a two-month long drought had damaged more than 50,000 hectares (124,000 acres) of rice - around 10 percent of the country's crop planted so far.
The rest of Cambodia's 450,000 hectares of wet season-planted rice could suffer the same fate, he said.
"According to our research, it is the worst drought in 20 years. There is nothing we can do about that," Nhim Vanda said after a meeting with Cambodian Red Cross officials on how to handle the problem of looming food shortages.
The drought has forced farmers to delay the planting of wet season rice, which normally accounts for the lion's share of total output and is planted between late June and the end of September.
The prolonged drought means farmers are unlikely to have the time to sow much more than the 500,000 hectares already planted.
As a result, overall rice plantation has fallen from an initially targeted 2.2 million hectares for 2002/03, Nhim Vanda said.
Officials blamed the El Nino weather phenomenon for the drought and said it would hit Cambodia's overall production.
The southeast Asian country had previously predicted a total rice output of 4.7 million tonnes for 2002/03, up from 4.1 million the previous year.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE