As the rains began to pour across Cambodia, heralding the beginning of the rainy season, agricultural experts have called for water reserves to be protected in case of climate change to avoid a repeat of shortages seen in recent years.
The request from the Ministry of Agriculture came a day after the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, which symbolically marks the start of farmers’ cultivation period.
Lor Reaksmey, a spokesman for the agriculture ministry, told VOA Khmer that the positive forecast from the ceremony should provide motivation for farmers, despite the severe drought.
He encouraged local authorities to find ways to reserve water, such as digging ponds, or building water reservoirs.
“We need to prepare water reservoirs to avoid water shortages due to climate change as we saw in previous years. We urge the local authorities to take action on water reservoirs,” he said.
Farmers welcomed the rains with cheers.
One farmer in Kampong Chhnang province, Srun Pov, 45, said she was happy that cultivation could finally begin after the long-delayed rains arrived.
“I'm so happy for the rain this month. My villagers will start farming now,” she said.
Laov Chanreth, 61, agreed, although the rains had yet to reach her land in Pursat province in the west of the country.
“Our water resources do not have water, it has dried up. So we can only depend on nature. There is not enough rain, and there are storms and lightening. There was rain here, yet it's just a small amount and not yet enough for farming,” she said.
Sam Vitou, director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said the little rains that had arrived were a positive sign, adding that if farmers were well-prepared they could avoid the worst effects.
However, he warned farmers to be ready for unexpected natural phenomenon.