Rains arrive, but situation 'still serious'
By Lon Nara
The government has warned the country's drought situation is still serious
even though the rains have arrived in some provinces. A senior official at the
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) said drought still prevailed
in Svay Rieng, Kampong Speu, Takeo and Prey Veng provinces.
"If there are still no rains in the third and fourth weeks of August in these provinces, this will have a serious effect on food security next year," Kith Seng of MAFF's planning department warned in a letter to Minister Chan Sarun on August 15. "The farmland in these four provinces makes up 33 percent of the country's total."
"Seedlings are surviving in some provinces, but the drought is still serious in Kampong Speu and Takeo. If they get no rain, they will face a food shortage."
MAFF figures show that rice sowing now stands at 32 percent, up from 24 percent two weeks ago.
The lack of rain has caused hundreds of farmers to seek food in Phnom Penh. Recent arrivals were from Kandal, Kampot and Kampong Cham provinces, and were at the headquarters of the Sam Rainsy Party to receive rice donated by the Royal Palace.
So Thoeun, 26, came with her husband and two children, one of whom was severely malnourished. A nurse at Kantha Bopha I Hospital told the Post the two-year-old was suffering from malnutrition. Thoeun said the drought had killed all their rice seedlings.
"I have no more money to buy rice," said Thoeun. "The nurse told me to feed him delicious food, but I don't know how I can find the money. I have run out everything. I don't have even a grain of rice at home."
Phnom Penh Post, Issue 11/17, August 16 - 29, 2002
© Michael Hayes, 2002. All rights revert to authors and artists on publication.