The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries had warned the Kingdom’s farmers to take precautions when planting crops and raising livestock in the coming months, owing to unseasonably high temperatures. The unusual weather, which it attributed to climate change, will have a severe impact on the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

The instructions were issued following the April 19 release of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology’s latest long-term weather forecast. The forecast predicts that the rainy season will arrive late, in the second week of May, and that rainfall is expected to be light.

“Such a situation could affect agricultural production,” said an April 26 press release from the agriculture ministry.

The release detailed measures that should be undertaken across the agricultural, fisheries and animal production subsectors.

“Rice farmers should be prepared to maintain dykes and install water pumps. Farmers should not rely on small water sources to support early paddy rice planting in the rainy season, as they may face damage due to drought,” it said.

“In areas with sufficient water sources, farmers should plant in late April or early May, in order to harvest in late July or August. In rain-fed rice paddy areas, farmers should prepare for planting in June or July, using mid-season rice varieties such as Phka Rumduol, in order to harvest in November,” it explained.

The release added that vegetable farmers should use water-saving irrigation systems, nets to keep the heat out and straw mulch or plastic covers to keep the soil moist. Farmers who are far from water sources like rivers, lakes or reservoirs should store water for irrigation use.

It also warned that the hot weather between April and June would have a negative effect on the Kingdom’s aquaculture.

“Water levels will be low, meaning oxygen levels in the water will also be reduced. This may lead to the death of large numbers of fish. Additional water may need to be supplied, or oxygen pumps deployed,” it said.

“Animal health and production will also be impacted by the coming drought. A lack of water affects animal’s immune systems, so they are less resistant to disease. There is a high risk of infections, particularly in poultry, so farmers must provide shelter, water and food, and adequate vaccinations,” it continued.

Battambang provincial agriculture department director Chhim Vachira said he had instructed his officials to closely monitor their respective sub-sectors.

“At this time, farmers have not encountered any problems. They are ploughing their fields normally. We have advised district authorities to restrict the amount of dry season rice they are planning to produce,” he added.

“They have to be careful to preserve whatever water they have, and it is important to remember that it is not just for agriculture. It has to support people’s daily needs, as well as livestock,” he continued.

He added that authorities had advised high-risk areas, including Kors Kralor and Rukhak Kiri districts, to begin string water as soon as possible.