Kampong Thom province has the capacity to produce 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes of paddy per annum, an amount that can ensure its food security and allows for exports of 500,000 tonnes per year, according to governor Nguon Rattanak.

Rattanak was speaking at a press conference on the province’s achievements of the past five years, held at the Council of Ministers on February 14.

He said that for the development of the agriculture sector, the province has been repairing the irrigation system, which supports both dry-season and wet-season paddy production.

He said that dry-season rice in Kampong Thom has an area of cultivation of more than 60,000ha, but through current irrigation infrastructure such as reservoirs, main canals and sub-canals, the province can provide water security to paddy on only 25,000 ha.

He explained that the province has four main water sources – Stung Stoung, Stung Sen, Stung Taing Krasang and Stung Chinit – and water management could improve the area under cultivation to increase it past the level provided by the state to plant dry-season rice on up to more than 60,000 ha.

Rattanak said the government provided legal titles to land for the people who depend on it in the area around Tonle Sap Lake, and also partitioned it from forest areas and created other environmental buffer zones, so the cultivated area in Kampong Thom will increase further, making agricultural production in the province greater.

He added that with the support project of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology in 2023, Kampong Thom will build two more dams to increase the amount of water available and support the expansion of cultivation. The two dams will be in the upper part of Dang Kambit commune of Sandan district and the lower part of Kampong Kor commune in Kampong Svay district.

“The crop will grow in total amount with the physical infrastructure that will be available in the near future, both the transport infrastructure and the infrastructure supporting the water sector and with the land policy,” he said.

Pen Vanrith, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the average paddy production in Kampong Thom is four tonnes per hectare, but in some areas, it can produce seven tonnes per hectare and in a few places up to nearly 10 tonnes per hectare. However, the paddy production depends on soil, seed, climate and maintenance factors.

Vanrith said that in some countries such as China, farmers can produce nearly 15 tonnes per hectare, so by comparison Cambodia still has low production.

He said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is promoting production by selecting varieties of rice to plant and addressing technical and soil factors.

“Today, in thinking about the land policy, we must consider what kind of land is right for which crops so that the farmer cultivates with the right soil and if the agriculture department pointed that out to them and they cultivated the right kind of crops, they can make a profit,” he said.