Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cambodian Farmers Happier to Plant Rice

By Soy Sophea

Cambodian farmers have been all smiles recently as rice has been fetching a healthy price in international as well as domestic markets. Naturally, this year, they plan to increase their harvest as much as possible.

Last year, Cambodia exported 2 million tons of rice to the world market, according to Chan Tong Yves, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries. This year, he said his ministry will urge Cambodian farmers to increase next season’s yield to take advantage of the high prices on international markets.

“In 2007, we produced 2.2 million tons of the staple out of 3 million hectares of paddy field throughout the country. This year, we want to expand the area under cultivation,” Tong Yves said.

Aun Sinath, 40, a farmer from Koh Thom district, Kandal province, is overjoyed because her harvest this year reached seven tones per hectare. Altogether, she, along with her stakeholders own 20 hectares of land. Naturally, Sinath said that she was happy with the high price of rice and would do all in her power to harvest the same or an improved yield per hectare this year.

Sok Chamroeun, Chairman of the Khmer Farmer’s Association, also looked forward to harvest time this year. He now plans to cultivate 2,000 hectares, combining the efforts of 15 farming communities in Lvea Em district, Kandal province. He said that high rice prices could only benefit his members and that it would be well worth the effort to plant a second rainy season crop. However, Chamroeun said that to make this a reality, he would need technical assistance and would need to invest in an irrigation system.

Chamroeun added that last year, he harvested about three and a half tones per hectare, as great a yield as he had ever achieved. This will not stop him attempting to reap seven tons per hectare next season.

The enthusiasm was repeated by Nuth San, a farmer in Kandal Stung district, Kandal province. He will try to improve on the 2.2 tons per hectare he harvested last season with the introduction of new techniques and fertilizers.

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