Friday, July 15, 2005

Cambodia may face food shortage in drought

A government official warned that millions of Cambodians will suffer food shortage if there is no significant rain until August, local media reported on Friday.

Nhim Vanda, first vice-chairman of the government's National Committee for Disaster Management, said Thursday that some provinces were severely lacking rain and that at least 2 million people could face food shortage next year if there is not more rain by the end of August, The Cambodia Daily reported.

Nhim Vanda said half a million Cambodian farmers were already suffering food shortage, and Takeo, Kompong Speu and Kandal provinces are the hardest hit.

Traditionally, the rainy season in Cambodia lasts from May until November, but the last two years have been unusually dry, he added.

However, Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun dismissed the warning, saying the prediction was not based on scientific data.

"We aren't worried about the food shortage this year or next year. So far we have gotten enough rain," he said, adding that only Takeo, Kompong Speu and Kandal provinces and Pailin and Phnom Penh municipalities lack water.

The National Disaster Committee said the drought and floods in 2000 and 2001 cost the government around 200 million US dollars and claimed the lives of 400 people, French newspaper Cambodia Evening reported.

Nhim Vanda said despite the threat against the country's food security, Cambodia has not sought international food aid because it still has sufficient food reserves for the next few months, The Cambodia Daily said.

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