Ministry of Water Resources, ADB meet over large-scale irrigation projects

Ministry of Water Resources, ADB meet over large-scale irrigation projects

Agriculture in Cambodia can be impacted by droughts and floods, so the government is keen on making the sector climate and disaster-resilient. Officials from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology met with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to hold discussions on joint irrigation projects.

In the meeting on Tuesday, Chan Sinath, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorological Affairs, reviewed the project management of Water Resources and Weather Resources by Diversified Measures (IWRM) with ADB and farmer cooperatives.

Also present were officials from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The IWRM project will look at the implementation of large-scale irrigation systems in the Eastern Rural Province, the Ministry of Water Resources said in a statement on Tuesday. The project will also see help from the National Center for Water Data Management, Water Command and Water Usage.

Sinath is likely to inspect the ongoing projects between March 5-17. Assisting him will be other officials from the department.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its project statement has said that its large-scale irrigation projects in the country hope to work with the government and improve the climate and disaster resilience of four irrigation systems in Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and Takeo provinces.

The irrigation systems of these four provinces supply water to 43,500 hectares for as many as 291,847 people. What is pertinent is that as high as 50 percent or 148,288 of these farmers and farm labourers are women, said ADB.

ADB said it hopes “to ensure the sustainability of these irrigation schemes by strengthening the institutional and financial capacity of the government staff and farming communities”.

Some of the work in this area will also deal with improving farming practices for higher agricultural productivity and crop diversification. The project looks at creating systems with new technology for better water resource management for the country’s farmers.

In 2023, agriculture contributed 22 percent to the country’s GDP. While rice is the predominant crop, Cambodia also produces other agricultural products such as rubber, cassava, bananas, mangoes and longans for both the domestic and overseas markets.

“Cambodia’s agriculture sector plays an important role in food security and poverty reduction. The sector is operating far below its capacity, mainly because of inadequate irrigation infrastructure, which limits cropping intensity and crop diversification. Disasters such as floods and droughts occur annually. There are annual water shortages because of the climate, topography, limited water storage and accessibility, especially in the Tonle Sap river basin,” observed ADB.

“As agriculture is the biggest water user in Cambodia, effective and sustainable water management would go a long way in reducing disaster risk and improving water storage,” said ADB. khmertimeskh

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